Kudos to Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press for his excellent series on the way in which a West Bloomfield detective used false evidence ploys and other standard psychologically coercive interrogation tactics against a 13 year old boy with Asperger's in an effort to get the boy to incriminate his father in the sexual abuse of his younger autistic sister. As Dickerson rightly recognized, these tactics are standard but dangerous when used against children and against the disabled and are especially uncalled when used against victims or witnesses of sexual abuse. Dickerson also deserves credit for recognizing that without the videotape of this interrogation, the result in this case -- the dismissal of charges against the father -- could well have been different. This case is a haunting reminder of at least two things that often gets lost in the debate over videotaping -- it is essential that all interviews of children be electronically recorded, not just interviews of suspects (but also of victims and witnesses); and 2) the distinction between an interview and an interrogation is often more imagined than real. It is a police-made distinction and one which the courts too often defer to but to the witness, victim, or suspect who is on the receiving end of such questioning, it all feels the same.
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080320/OPINION01/803200329/0/COL04 (editorial )
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080317/COL04/803170336/0/COL04 (Part 2: Sex abuse case against Oakland couple was legal horror show)
http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080316/COL04/803160557/0/COL04 (Part 1: How to Wreck a boy's life?")