Sex crimes allegedly perpetrated against children tend to get a great deal of attention from the media and the public.
Those accused of sexually-motivated offenses against children often face an uphill battle because the court of public opinion typically judges them guilty before the case ever makes it to court.
But our Birmingham defense lawyers also know that prosecutors are going to face many challenges of their own in these cases, not the least of which is the reliability of child witnesses.
It’s not so much that children lie. Most children want to do the right thing. But that can be part of the problem. They are easily swayed by suggestion. They want to please influential adults in their lives. That can include parents, police, social workers and prosecutors.
The investigatory process can be very overwhelming and frightening for a child. Young people are also incredibly vulnerable to suggestion. These adults need not necessarily tell them to say one thing or the other, but through leading questions, intensive questioning and possibly even intimidation, a child may indicate events occurred that did not.
We can’t say whether this is the case with a Mobile mother who is facing two counts of sodomy and one count of sexual abuse of a child under 12. However, we know that false accusations from children happen far too often.
The case out of Mobile is receiving a great deal of attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the defendant is female. Secondly, the defendant is the mother of a teen girl who was reported missing last year and has not surfaced since.
According to police, the defendant in this case is accused of carrying out the alleged crimes in 2009. The victim, 10 at the time, is now 14. Authorities have declined to go into great detail about what is alleged to have occurred, except to say that the reported victim is “extremely, extremely matter-of-fact” about the matter. The detective stated that he knows the victim is telling the truth, but declined to give specifics that would lead him to that conclusion, beyond the demeanor of the alleged victim.
The defendant said she has raised five children and never touched any inappropriately. She said she has yet to even be told the identity of her accuser. She is the sixth individual in the family to be arrested in connection for sex-related offenses since her daughter went missing last year.
The defendant’s sister-in-law has also recently been arrested in for sodomy, sexual abuse of a child under 12 and sexual torture.
It’s not clear whether all of these cases are connected to the same child victim or whether there is a separate accuser for each.
The crimes of which these individuals are accused are going to require an aggressive effort by defense lawyers, as they carry possible life sentences. Alabama Code 13A-6-63 holds that sodomy in the first degree is defined as deviate sexual intercourse with another person wherein the action is forced, involves a person who is mentally or physically incapacitated or involves a person over the age of 16 and a child under the age of 12. It’s a Class A felony.
Meanwhile, sexual abuse of a child under 12 by a person over the age of 16 is considered a Class B felony, per Alabama Code 13A-6-69.1