Children's Advocacy Centers of North Dakota
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Inability to speak should not hinder prosecution

In an article written by Rainville (n.d.), it is argued that prosecution should not be hindered by a child’s inability to speak or presents with other disabilities based on the author’s experience with prosecution. The following information is an excerpt from the article: 

For deaf children, you need two interpreters: a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) for the child, and an American Sign Language interpreter for the questioner. CDIs are deaf themselves, and they can interpret far more than an ASL interpreter, especially for young children who are not yet fluent in ASL.

We also successfully prosecuted a man who sexually assaulted a teenage boy who had an IQ in the low 50s and also had a significant speech impediment that made his speech incomprehensible to everyone other than his family and his special educator who had been working with him for years. We listed the special educator as his interpreter for trial, and the defendant promptly pled guilty.

Working with children with disabilities takes time—a great deal of time. The prosecutor must meet with treating therapists, teachers, special educators, and interpreters. Remember, these are the children who are most vulnerable and most need our protection.

Today, well over 50% of our child sexual assault cases involve children with disabilities. For the first time, these children are being protected, and the serial offenders who had preyed on this population for years without repercussions are finally being put away. Most importantly, by giving these children the tools they need to get through the criminal process, they become empowered, their self-esteem flourishes, and they learn the skills to protect themselves in the future and to stop the cycle of sexual abuse.

Rainville, C. (n.d.) Interviewing Children with Disabilities in Child Abuse Cases: A New Approach. American Bar, 31(4).

To see the full article, click the link below.