Our client was accused by his daughter of molesting her on several occasions. These incidents were purported to have occurred during the daughter’s visits to her father in West Palm Beach and during the time she lived with him in Savannah, Georgia. In her deposition, the daughter remarked that the incidents were so traumatizing to her that she had taken to cutting herself (self-mutilation). She showed a small scar on her arm to the prosecutor and defense attorney as “proof” of her allegation.
After studying the deposition and interviewing the client, we determined that the daughter lived with her father in Savannah during her middle school years and had stayed with him for at least two summers. With this information, I traveled to Savannah to pursue contact with several of the daughter’s classmates and friends.
Savannah, Georgia is a lovely city of classic homes, Southern charm and an active riverfront life. It is also hotter and more humid than the sixth level of hell, which is relevant to this case study. During my interviews with the alleged victim’s classmates and their parents, I asked them to describe the girl and share their impressions of her credibility and her relationship with her father. All of the witnesses described our client’s daughter as a friendly girl who seemed close to her father. Their understanding was that she had come to Savannah voluntarily because she had a difficult relationship with her mother.
I then asked the classmates if they were familiar with the alleged victim’s self-mutilation, or “cutting.” All seemed surprised by the claim, stating they had never noticed any sign of such activity. I asked if any of them had photographs of the alleged victim. One of her friends had several photos that were taken at a camp outside of Savannah the summer before the girl’s last year at school in Savannah, contemporaneous with the allegations and claims of self-mutilation.
In the photos, the alleged victim was wearing shorts, halter tops, and a bikini. Her arms and legs were all exposed to the sun and heat. No cuts or evidence of abuse (self-inflicted or otherwise) were apparent. The alleged victim seemed as carefree as one might expect for a girl her age; lively, sweet, and fun-loving.
Result: With the photographs in hand and statements from her former classmates, I returned to West Palm Beach. After viewing the photographs the charges were dropped by the prosecutor. Other situations unrelated to those charges resulted in probation for our client, who has not had any further contact with his daughter.
If you have a client who has been accused of molestation and you need the facts, call Complete Legal at 561-687-8381. We will leave no stone unturned in finding the facts.