Sexual abuse investigation on psychic's say-so

The frightened mother rushed back to the campus and was stunned by what she heard - the principal, vice-principal and her daughter’s teacher were all waiting for her in the office, telling her they’d received allegations that Victoria had been the victim of sexual abuse - and that the CAS had been notified.

How did they come by such startling knowledge? Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.

“The teacher looked and me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of “V.” And she said ‘yes, I do.’ And she said, ‘well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.’”

I have no words for this.

I think if society wants to pretend along with psychics and go on ghost hunts and such, that’s great. Have fun! I’ll even pack you a lunch.

But when it comes to them accusing people of sexual deviance and having officials leap into action, it needs to stop. Now any man in that woman’s life who is between 23 and 26 stands a good chance of having his life ruined. Let’s be adults here, FFS.

(although in reading the article it appears to have only ruined the womans life for now … sigh)

In a sane society Three persons - the principal, vice-principal and her daughter’s teacher - would be fired.

And the psychic caught and at least fined.

Are the teacher and administrators mandated reporters? If so, they didn’t have a choice about this, as silly as it seems. They are required by law to report any allegation of abuse that comes their way, without judgment of its merits.

Damnit. Now I owe Rywill an apology from the ghost thread.

The best part of the story: the school had “lost” the autistic child before, and the mother had bought a GPS device for her to wear, with 24/7 audio recording, as a result. This black box conclusively proved that the psychic was full of shit.

These are the people we trust our children with. God help us.

See?!?! I feel like that guy at the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Is that really true? I thought they only had to report it if they reasonably believed there was abuse. I mean, what if I just walk into some school off the street and tell them that Betty Sue is being abused. And so they go to Red Alert and make a report. Then I tell them that the boy who sits next to her is as well. In fact, every child in the school is being abused, not only by their parents, but also by the teachers, and the janitors, and the principal herself. At some point don’t they get to say “Wait a second, this is a bunch of crap”?

Edit: From the article –

under the Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed, must report it immediately - and the CAS has an obligation to follow up.

(Emphasis mine) Fortunately the CAS immediately closed the case, calling it “ridiculous,” but imagine if her CAS caseworker had been as credulous as the teacher, or the mom hadn’t coincidentally had ironclad proof that no abuse occurred. Scary. But unfortunately not unheard of – and not even close to as bad as stuff that has happened before, like the “Satanic ritual abuse” craze from the 80’s.

Different jurisdictions have different standards. Given the “reasonable grounds” standard, I’d say that yeah, the administrators didn’t think this one through.

But often the laws put teachers in very difficult positions, opening them up to liability if the DON’T report allegations that are later proven. “Better safe than sorry” is usually the result of that.

The obvious response to this is burning the psychic for being a witch.

Later in the article:

The self-proclaimed psychic was found to be made of wood and weigh the same as a duck.

Obviously a witch.

I get where you’re coming from, but your conclusion doesn’t really follow, at least as it applies to this particular case. How could the teacher’s aid be held responsible for not reporting a piece of information that was utterly meaningless? Neither the girl nor the supposed perpetrator were named or identified in any way by the psychic*, the TA basically just took a vague accusation and ran with it. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the allegation had turned out to be true and the TA hadn’t reported it. How would anyone divine that the TA should have notified authorities based on an experience with a psychic? There’s simply no liability to be had.

  • I’m discounting the “little girl by the name of ‘V’” nonsense.

Well that’s just it, ideally it should have ended with the TA blowing off the psychic’s “information”, but the fact that she was seeing a psychic in the first place suggests that she puts a bit of faith in what the psychic says. If she didn’t, then she wouldn’t have even been seeing the psychic.

As for the administrators, they probably felt obliged to go through the motions of processing the claim, even if the conclusion was a foregone “TA is nuts”, just to avoid the appearance that they’re ignoring or covering up abuse claims.

Yeah, I sympathize with the actions of the administration to at least some extent, since they’re just covering their asses at that point. I’m just saying that from the point of view of the TA, there was no liability until she created it.

As you should. That’s a pretty typical psychic trick. The specificity of the information makes it seem more significant than it really is to the person that the psychic is “reading” (“Holy crap! I do work with a child whose name starts with V!”), but it’s really just playing the odds. An educational assistant working at an elementary school probably works with dozens of children on a regular basis. The psychic could have picked any letter in the alphabet and have a good shot at striking gold, and then the subject’s imagination will do the work of filling in the details on their own. They’ll immediately ask themselves “Could any behavior ever exhibited by that child possibly be attributed to child abuse?” And very likely–no matter who the specific child is–they’ll come up with something that conceivably could.

Well, I think the TA’s actions were the worst of the bunch. She didn’t have a reasonable basis for reporting allegations of abuse.

However, the rest had to react to this allegation being taken seriously by a subordinate, at which point their hands are somewhat tied. Let’s say they don’t do anything, and then the TA goes to the press screaming cover-up or something. It’s a tough spot.

But as for the liability, sure if no one ever finds out you didn’t disclose an allegation, you won’t get held liable. But that doesn’t change the fact that the laws often hold you responsible, and that “report everything, no matter how minor” is a reasonable risk-averse behavior to follow in that situation.

This whole specific scenario is pretty dumb, and it’s good that it didn’t go beyond the social workers coming in and saying “man what.” It also sounds like this school has some serious issues. But I was trying to give some perspective to those people calling for the heads of the school employees. Often they don’t have choices in things like this.

My assumption was that the “V” was the newspaper’s way of obscuring the name of a minor. Everything you said stands, though – walk up to a stranger and say “do you know a guy named Carl? HE’S IN TROUBLE!” You’ll get a reaction, because everybody knows a guy named Carl. Similarly, in Trailer Park Boys, Randy can ingratiate himself to anyone by identifying himself as a friend of supposed mutual acquaintance “Jim.”

Psychics are statisticians in gypsy skirts.

I do not believe this is the case, as a couple paragraphs prior to the “V” thing they explicitly name her: