During a child abuse intervention conference, Robert H. Farley briefed attendees on how they can profile a child molester.
As a detective, deputy United States marshal and unit supervisor, Farley has had more than 28 years of experience investigating and supervising all aspects of crimes against children from sexual abuse to child homicide.
Farley made a presentation during the conference held Friday by Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA) and Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center. The event drew 230 child welfare professionals, social workers, law enforcement officers, attorneys, medical and mental health professionals, educators and advocates.
Farley said understanding the mindset of a child molester could help lead to a successful investigation.
“In order to successfully investigate child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, you must become one with the molester. You must get inside the molester’s mind,” he told conference attendees.
“If you can think like they think and see what they see, you’ll be successful in your investigation.”
Farley said molesters often work in positions where they have access to children – positions such as scout leaders and youth ministry leaders. They typically seek out single women with children and go places where they can encounter children.
During his presentation, Farley described the types of child molesters – the situational and preferential molesters. Farley said situational molesters don’t have a true sexual preference for children. These are the molesters who abuse their victims based on weakness and availability. The preferential molesters are those who only have sexual preferences for a child. Farley says they are gender and age specific — and typically have multiple victims.
In addition to highlighting the types of molesters, Farley also gave insight on how investigators can testify in court during sexual abuse cases.
Farley says there is a national trend of more children becoming “compliant victims” when they experience sexual abuse by someone who they met on the Internet. He noted many of these children don’t disclose the abuse because they are under the perception that they willingly met the adult for a “date.”
“They perceive it as a date so they are not reporting it. The only way that the police or a hotline get involved is by accident,” Farley pointed out.
“The Internet has changed investigating child sex abuse. It’s brought out more people than we ever had before who are abusing kids,” Farley said, noting that children are often vulnerable to molesters because they often post a lot of their personal information online.
Chris Kirchner, executive director of Philadelphia Children’s Alliance said there are about 1,600 reported cases of child sexual abuse in the city every year. Even though the stories about sexual abuse reported in the news often involve strangers, Kirchner said the majority of reported cases in Philadelphia involved abuse by a household member.
“That’s the dynamic that makes it challenging for someone to disclose,” Krichner pointed out.
The conference comes as PCA, Philadelphia Special Victims Unit, Department of Human Services Abuse Unit and medical professionals are gearing up to co-locate at 300 East Hunting Park Avenue by in the spring of 2013. The housing of these various resources under one roof will enable the participating agencies to provide better care and services to children who have been sexually abused.