Loudoun CPS – The Margaret Kelly Michaels Case


The following link is the decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court concerning  the Kelly Michaels Case. Ms. Michaels was convicted of sexual abuse in New Jersey in the 80’s. The conviction was subsequently overturned. The article linked above contains excellent point made by the New Jersey Supreme Court for affirming the overturning of the conviction.  The following is an excellent point.

“A variety of factors bear on the kinds of interrogation that can affect the reliability of a child’s statements concerning sexual abuse.  We note that a fairly wide consensus exists among experts, scholars, and practitioners concerning improper interrogation techniques.  They argue that among the factors that can undermine the neutrality of an interview and create undue suggestiveness are a lack of investigatory independence, the pursuit by the interviewer of a preconceived notion of what has happened to the child, the use of leading questions, and a lack of control for outside influences on the child’s statements, such as previous conversations with parents or peers. Younts, supra, 41 Duke L.J. at 729-30, 730-31;  see also, John E.B. Myers, The Child Witness:  Techniques for Direct Examination, Cross-Examination, and Impeachment, 18 Pac.L.J. 801, 889 (1987) (stating that factors that influence child’s suggestibility include:  (1) whether interviewer believes in presumption of guilt;  (2) whether questions asked are leading or non- leading;  and (3) whether interviewer was trusted authority figure). ”

The above paragraph is all good, but the underlined portion is critical.  The accusing parent will be the driving force behind the false accusations. You will need to expose this fact in Court. In order to do this, it will be critical to get the notes of all professionals who interviewed your child. Every professional who speaks with your child will document the statements of your child and the statements of the parent who took the child to the professional. You need to review any and all statements made by the accusing parent to any professional.

The use of incessantly repeated questions also adds a manipulative element to an interview.  When a child is asked a question and gives an answer, and the question is immediately asked again, the child’s normal reaction is to assume that the first answer was wrong or displeasing to the adult questioner.  See Debra A. Poole and Lawrence T. White, Effects of Question Repetition on Eyewitness Testimony of Children and Adults, 27 Developmental Psychology, November (1991) at 975.  The insidious effects of repeated questioning are even more pronounced when the questions themselves over time suggest information to the children.  Goodman and Helgeson, supra, 40 U.Miami L.Rev. at 184-187.”

The above underline statement is critical as well, the repeated effects of questioning on a child have an enormous impact. The accusing parent and Sandra Glenney’s psychologist will not take no for an answer. Your child will be questioned numerous times by several people, you will need to determine the exact amount and the duration for each time.

I will write more concerning the Michael’s case. In the meantime I strongly advise to read the following literature


Debra A. Poole and Lawrence T. White, Effects of Question Repetition on Eyewitness Testimony of Children and Adults,

Goodman and Helgeson, supra, 40 U.Miami L.Rev. at 184-187




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