Imagine being abused by another person, and when telling your story to a cop, your abuser is present during the interview.
Absurd, right? Also intimidating, coercive, and pretty ineffective at getting good information to pursue a criminal case.
But a similar scenario can happen in Minnesota if the abused person is a minor. Minnesota is the only state not granting children the right to be interviewed separately from their guardians when reporting abuse — even if the guardian is the alleged abuser.
To have children provide their stories to investigators with potential abusers present “is incredibly problematic,” she said. “It does not allow us to really get to the heart of what’s going on to keep children protected.”
The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday and sent it to the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. There is no Senate companion.
The bill would help people like Maya White.
She is now 15 years old, but when she was in sixth grade, White found the courage to report her father’s abusive acts. As a result, White said she was “immediately faced with another scary reality.”
“Not only did I have to tell my story to complete strangers, but I was also forced to do so in front of my abuser,” she said.
As she was telling her story to investigators, White was continuously worried she would be forced to go home with her abusive father.
“This has got to change,” she said. “No child should have to go through the same experience that I did.”
The bill would:
A minor who makes a maltreatment report or assists in a maltreatment investigation or assessment would be immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise result from making the report or assisting in the assessment or investigation.