Child molestation is a broader crime than most people realize. Most people assume that someone who has been accused of the crime touched a child’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts with a sexual purpose. However, under California law, it does not matter what part of the child’s body is touched. You can be charged with child molestation for touching any part of a child’s body.
Because the crime is so broad and encompasses potentially any touching, it is also a crime for which it is easy to be falsely or mistakenly accused.
Why People Falsely Allege Child Molestation
In California, thousands of people have been falsely accused of inappropriate physical contact with a child’s body. The motivation behind those accusations often depends on the person making them. Here are some reasons that are common to many of the cases.
In bitter custody battles, it is sadly common for one parent to make a false accusation of child molestation against the other parent to gain an advantage. The accusation may be that the other parent molested his or her own child, or it might be made that he or she touched another person’s child inappropriately.
In some cases, a child may lie about being molested. Sometimes the motive is revenge against a parent who denied the child permission to do something the child wanted to do or go somewhere that the child wanted to go. There have been many cases where a child falsely accuses his or her teacher because of poor grades. Other children have lied because they are seeking attention, or have certain mental health issues.
Many accusations that are either false or mistaken come from persons who have no lasting connection to the child at the center of the case. This could be a counselor at a summer camp who witnesses another counselor touching a child and assumes the worst. It could be a nurse or doctor who finds what they believe to be evidence of abuse and then reports that to the police. It might be an employee who accuses an employer to retaliate for not receiving a raise.
Due to the publicity that seems to always surround any case that involves allegations of child molestation, parents are often telling their children about a “good touch” vs. a “bad touch.” While in general this is a wise thing for parents to do, the downside of such discussions is that it often puts young children on “high alert” to report any touching at all.
For a young child a hug by a teacher can be interpreted as a “bad touch” or a “wrong touch”. The same can be true for a squeeze of the shoulders or a pat on the back or thigh. In the vast majority of cases where the allegations are limited to this form of “touching” the charges of child molestation are determined to be false.
What Can You Do to Protect Against False Allegations?
While it is not possible to account for every person’s motives, you can take some steps to lessen the chance that you will be accused of child molestation. This is especially important if you are working at a place where interactions with children are a part of your daily work, such as teachers or daycare employees.
The best way to cut down on the chance that you will be falsely accused of child molestation is to always have a witness who can recount your interactions with the child. Always have at least one other adult present, if possible. The presence of a witness means that the child will be less likely to make a false accusation, and the witness will be able to give context to any physical contact between you and the child, inadvertent or otherwise.
However, not all situations will allow for the presence of another person. In these situations, you should try to make it easy for others who are passing by to observe the interaction with the child. Suppose you are the last employee left at a daycare facility, and you are waiting for the last child to be picked up by his or her parent. Instead of waiting in a private room with the doors closed, leave a door open, or wait with the child outside of the building in the parking lot where you can be easily seen. If your workplace has video cameras, make sure you wait with the child in full view of the camera.
Furthermore, you should always be aware of what is considered appropriate contact. Avoid lingering hugs or extended periods of time where you are touching the child’s body. For example, if you are a coach of a sport and you are trying to teach a skill, instead of touching the child to reposition them correctly, you should instead demonstrate what you want the child to do and tell them to do what you are doing.
Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich For Help With Your Case
If you are falsely accused of touching a child under Penal Code Section 288(a), you have a serious legal challenge ahead of you. Hiring an experienced sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible can be your best chance at beating this charge. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully defending clients like you for over 35 years. We have the knowledge, skill, and persistence needed to fight these charges, and we are dedicated to delivering the best possible outcome to your child’s case. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.