The self-righteous know no shame. One of the children who was interrogated by the police in the sex abuse witch hunt described in my previous posts, was a 10-year-old cancer patient. I had befriended her and her family near the end of my 10 years as a volunteer in the pediatric oncology department of Palermo’s children’s hospital. Her tragic life was marked by a diagnosis of leukemia when she was only two years old, followed by the accidental death of her father in a car crash, her remission and then relapse, and another remission and relapse and her own death at 12. Since L. isn’t the only child I’ve known who I must now visit in the cemetery, I don’t think many other people have a similar perspective.
L. was always a beautiful, cheerful little girl, who had mentally adjusted to her misfortunes. I brought her little gifts at the hospital, taught her how to make a purse out of fancy cloth, we played countless card games and board games, but mostly I just kept her company. When she had to undergo an invasive procedure, she asked me to accompany her rather than the full-time professionals. Since I always had my camera with me, she once asked me to take her picture. It was against hospital policy to photograph patients, so I suggested that I let her mother use my camera to take her picture. Even without any hair, she smiled beautifully for the camera, and she even posed for a portrait with me. Since her mother was a widow, I asked for her mom’s telephone number, but then it was L. who sent me silly messages, and even tried to get me fixed up with her aunt. I was willing to meet her aunt, but I would have preferred to marry her mother and adopt L. as my own daughter.
In March 2016 when a fanatical Italian prosecutor ordered the police to search my home and break my doors down if necessary, they confiscated my computer disk and saw the pictures of L. They also confiscated my cell phone and saw the innocent messages L. and I had exchanged. So the police first tracked down and interrogated L.’s adult brother who was like a father figure, and he assured them that I was always nice to the child. Dissatisfied with that lack of evidence of wrongdoing, the prosecutor then ordered the police to interrogate the child herself without any parent or guardian or legal representative present.
At 10 she was in remission, had all of her hair, and was her usual cheerful self. In the video of the interrogation you can see that when the interrogators asked her about me, she too said I was a nice person. They asked her specifically if I had ever done anything that bothered her, and she replied: No. Over the course of an hour the interrogators repeated that question and many other questions over and over again, trying to confuse the child so she would contradict herself. As in the interrogations of the other children, the video was even interrupted so someone could coach or threaten the child while the video was turned off. Eventually the interrogators blatantly suggested that L. was lying to protect me from the state. (Gee, I wonder why?) But the brave child insisted that she had nothing to hide. Finally the interrogators threatened to make her brother come to the police station again to get at the “truth.” L. called their bluff, so they gave up temporarily.
Some time after that despicable interrogation, despite her adult brother’s defense of me, and despite the child’s persistent defense of me, the prosecutor demanded that the child attend a pretrial “taint hearing” to be interrogated again in front of the judge. In other countries the defense requests the taint hearing to determine if the witness has been compromised. But in Italy the prosecutor calls the taint hearing as an excuse to interrogate the child again. Before the date of the taint hearing L. relapsed again and died. Nonetheless, the prosecutor requested that the preliminary judge include the deceased child’s recorded interrogation as evidence for the prosecution. Evidence of what? The more names of witnesses “against” the defendant presented at trial, the more prejudice is created against the accused, and in accusations of child sex abuse where words are the only evidence, prejudice counts more than proof.
Despite the outrageous misconduct of the state in this case, legal experts in Italy have informed me that there is no chance any of the families who are victims of this witch hunt will ever receive any compensation for the stress, indignity, and financial loss we have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous government employees and “victim advocates” who claim to be “protecting” children. There have been several studies suggesting that children are often worse off after state intervention (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, etc.), but that evidence doesn’t stop some “professionals” from recommending coercive interrogations of child witnesses and even taking children away from their parents to be placed in danger of greater harm in state-sponsored group homes.
- Bagley, Christopher. Children, Sex and Social Policy: Humanistic Solutions for Problems of Child Sexual Abuse. Ashgate, 1997.
- Maddock, J. “Child reporting and testimony in incest cases: Comments on the construction and reconstruction of reality.” Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 6, 201-220, 1988. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Martone, M. et al. “Criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse cases.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 20, 5, 457-464, 1996. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Myers, J. (ed.). The backlash: Child protection under fire. Sage, 1994. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Sauzier, M. “Disclosure of child sexual abuse: for better or worse.” Psychiatric clinics of North America, 12, 455-469, 1989. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Saywitz, K. and Nathanseon, R. “Children’s testimony and their perceptions of stress in and out of the courtroom.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 17, 613-622, 1993. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Tedesco, J. and Schnell, S. “Children’s reactions to sex abuse investigation and litigation.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 11, 267-272, 1987. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
- Underwager, R. and Wakefield, R. The Real World of Child Interrogation. Charles C. Thomas, 1990. Quoted in Bagley op cit.