11 May What Happens if You are Accused of Sexually Molesting One of Your Children While Going Through a Divorce?
Julius Beam (not his real name) and his wife, Jennifer, of 10 years were in the opening stages of getting a divorce and there was a lot of antagonism over the details of who would get what, including custody of the children. They had two daughters, Sarah and Lisa, ages eight and four, respectively and Jennifer was planning on taking custody of them. Jennifer and the children had already moved out.
When Julius received the divorce papers and summons, he was horrified to find that Jennifer was falsely accusing him of sexually molesting the younger child, Lisa. This would mean that not only would he have no chance of custody for the children, but he might also be banned from ever seeing them again.
He called a criminal defense lawyer for a consultation on what Julius could do next. Not only did he not want to lose the children, but he wanted to restore his good name.
The First Steps
The defense lawyer first checked for records of any abusive behavior which would have been reported to the police. There were none. The document included in the divorce papers stating that Julius had sexually molested his daughter was a signed document from Jennifer. In that document, she had stated that Lisa had told her what Julius had done. There were no other documents to substantiate her claim of Julius molesting Lisa.
The next step was that the case should be moved into criminal court to defend against the accusation of sexual molestation. In criminal court, this could be charged as sexual assault of a minor.
While divorce cases are generally handled in family court with little power to defend against certain accusations, the criminal court process would allow the attorney for Julius to incorporate more processes for the defense. A summons was delivered to Jennifer which she signed, thus agreeing to show up for the hearing.
The Criminal Case
In a preliminary hearing with the judge and a prosecutor for Jennifer’s side, the defense attorney requested names of doctors and all medical documents concerning Lisa be provided to Julius, his defense attorney, and the prosecutor, as part of discovery. Jennifer was to also provide any police reports substantiating her charge.
Next, the defense attorney requested the judge appoint an independent child protection counselor to interview Lisa to hear what she had to say about her father, Julius. The interview would be recorded as per the judge’s orders. Jennifer had to comply with the order and she also was not allowed in the interview to influence any part of the proceedings.
The judge received no paperwork from Jennifer concerning any doctor visits or police reports, nor was there any evidence that Lisa was taken to a health counselor for emotional treatment of sexual abuse. Furthermore, the results of the interview showed that Lisa provided no evidence that Julius had ever done anything wrong to her.
During that interview, a doll was used to ask Lisa where on the doll’s body that her father had touched her as far as she could remember. Lisa did not indicate any part of the doll, other than to say that he hugged her a lot and gave her kisses at night when being put to bed. She also wanted to know when she could see her daddy again.
The Resulting Charge
The judge, under California Penal Code § 148.5, charged Jennifer with making a false and serious claim to benefit herself in the divorce proceedings. She was sentenced with a misdemeanor and a fine, for which the judge would determine later. The judge wrote a recommendation to the family court that they consider that the children be put in the custody of Julius and that Jennifer makes child support payments.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault of your child as part of your divorce proceedings, call us at once for a consultation. 619-234-2300