SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When it comes to child sex abuse, 90 percent of children are abused by someone they know.
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the U.S experience child sexual abuse.
The Compass Center in Sioux Falls not only helps adult victims of sexual abuse, but half of their clients are children.
Most of the time child sex abuse investigations are initiated after a child speaks up to a parent or other caretaker.
“Really what we want people to do is to make the report and to make the report and let the professionals, law enforcement, child advocacy centers, those kinds of things, determine credibility,” Michelle Trent of The Compass Center said.
Forensic interviewers, whether they work in law enforcement in sex crimes units, or for organizations such as Child’s Voice, are trained in how to ask neutral questions which don’t point a child in one direction or another.
“Oftentimes if a child is disclosing something, they’re not disclosing everything that happened. They may be disclosing one little piece,” Trent said.
Children may not always realize that what is happening to them is wrong, or they worry they will get in trouble if they tell.
“So the perpetrator knows that and the perpetrator uses those vulnerabilities as a way to cover the crimes, meaning that sometimes things don’t come out until years later, or weeks later,” Trent said.
The more time that goes by, the harder the case is to prosecute.
“I know many of the prosecutors in South Dakota take these cases seriously and do their best to prosecute them because of all the complications of it’s a child and the evidence pieces–all of that–sometimes they are very challenging to prosecute, meaning sometimes they don’t get prosecuted,” Trent said.
A Watertown mother is fighting back, after an incident of alleged sex abuse of her daughter in daycare never made it to criminal court.
“I figured he would be charged and put behind bars so that he couldn’t hurt anybody else and the Watertown police department was wonderful. They kept me informed, they did their job. They investigated it thoroughly. It wasn’t until it went to the State’s Attorney’s office that it was kind of… um. We were really greatly let down,” Mother Autumn Strichertz said.
Coming up tonight on our KELOLAND News Investigation, “A Mother’s Cry for Justice,” we look at some of the shocking things that happened in this case where the law was clearly broken, yet there were no criminal consequences. Plus, we confront the registered sex offender accused of sexually molesting the little girl. That’s Thursday at ten.