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The Champion

December 2017 , Page 48 

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Defending Sexual Assault Allegations by Children - Using Forensic Interview Protocols to Your Advantage

By Randall Levine and Rachel Gruetzner

It has been nearly 35 years since prosecutors brought Raymond Buckey and Peggy McMartin-Buckey to trial over allegations of sexual abuse at the McMartin Preschool in 1983.1 The three-year trial, which ultimately led to acquittals for both defendants,2 was one in a series of high-profile cases that spurred changes in how the criminal justice system views children’s allegations of abuse, and importantly, how such allegations should be investigated.3 Since the issues came to light in the 1980s, social scientists and psychologists have performed hundreds of experiments to pinpoint how to minimize child suggestibility. The result: nearly standardized forensic interviewing protocols4 that offer “empirically supported guidelines to forensic interviewers.”5 But, like any other mechanism in police work, there is the policy, and then, of course, there is the practice.6 Despite that decades have passed since the McMartin mess, law enforcement still struggles to ensure that child ac

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