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The process behind investigating child sex abuse cases

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April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.

With multiple cases in our state for the month of March, ABC4 takes a closer look at how detectives investigate child sex abuse cases.

It can take months and sometimes years.

“I’ve got a total of 10 years, and in the last year I had a little over 200 cases,” said Detective Shawn Lewis with the Layton City Police Department. “When I have a case that goes over a month, it’s because I’m intentionally going over a month to check the validity.”

Lewis breaks down how the investigations begin for these types of cases.

“As a detective, we either get investigations from the patrol side of it because someone has come and reported it to police, or we get it from CPS, child protective services.”

In the state of Utah, there isn’t a statute of limitations on most child sex abuse cases. It’s due to delayed reporting.

Once a case is reported and crosses Lewis’ desk, there’s a specific goal in mind.

“I’m so focused on getting the details of the case and less focused on the emotional value,” said Lewis. “It’s so I can bring forth the evidence of the case necessary for a successful prosecution. There’s not often witnesses with child sex abuse and there’s not often physical evidence.”

While a case is being investigated, a safety plan is put in place.

It’s to protect the initial victim as well as any potential new victims.

And, when it comes to protecting your child from an abuser, Lewis shares this advice.

“If their child discloses so and so touched me, or did something that was inappropriate that’s great that’s when they should be calling CPS or the police,” said Lewis. “Let the forensic interview process come forward with the disclosure because that makes it more court worthy.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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