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Autor: anton • September 19, 2010 • 2,314 Words (10 Pages) • 996 Views
The term child abuse was once as rarely heard as that of pink elephants. However rare the term has once been, it is now a term used consistently throughout the news and various other publications today. Along with the progressing decline in society's morals, has come the rapid increase of crime. One such crime is child abuse. Although child abuse is common, the act is defiling. As a result of the abuse, children who fall victim to this often need psychological treatment and counseling. Often, the child is never the same as he or she once was before. The dictionary defines child abuse as: "the physical, or emotional, or sexual mistreatment of children" (Dictionary.com). Everyday thousands of children are the victims of this abuse. The abusers range from parents, friends, total strangers, to even day-care workers.
One case involving the abuse of children in their care is that of Frank and Ileana Fuster. The two were accused in 1984 of molesting children in their home. Frank was a 36-year-old Cuban immigrant and was married to 17-year-old Ileana who was Honduran. Frank and Ileana Fuster were residents of Country Walk, Florida where they held a home-based babysitting service (Pendergrast). The case was then known as "Country Walk" because of the city in which the two, Frank and Ileana resided. "The case began when a 3-year-old boy asked his mother to "kiss my body" when she was giving him a bath. He said, "Ileana kisses all the babies' bodies." The mother became concerned and reported the comments to the Dade County child protection authorities ("A Summary of the Frank Fuster..." NP).
Fuster seemed to be living the American dream before the accusations were presented against him. Frank and Ileana were newly weds, owned a new home in the suburbs and a landscaping business that was doing well. However, Frank was not living the American dream. He was still on probation for a 1982 child molestation conviction for fondling a nine-year-old girl and manglaughter, for shooting a man after a traffic accident ("Debunking Frontline's Did Daddy Do It?" NP). Frank had been "arrested on September 21, 1982 for lewd and lascivious assault on a minor - a nine-year-old girl whose breasts and genitals Fuster fondled while driving her home. The jury heard from the girl, who was cross-examined at length. They found her credible and convicted Fuster" ("Fuster's Manslaughter Conviction" NP).
On August 9, 1984, Frank was arrested on charges of violating his probation. Ileana was then arrested on August 23, 1984 and was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault of a minor ("Statement of Facts And..." NP). Both Frank and Ileana denied the charges against them. Frank had already been convicted for the manslaughter in 1969 and for the 1982 condling of a child ("A Summary of the Frank Fuster..." NP). His case was not looking hopeful. Over 20 children came forward concerning the charges and told police that they had been raped and molested by Frank and Ileana. The state attorney, Janet Reno's office built its case against Frank and Ileana based on testimonies from children, a medical test, and a confession from Ileana ("A Summary of the Frank Fuster..." NP).
The children that came forward and were interviewed went through tremendous questioning. The "Miami Method" was a method invented because the methods of interviewing children were hurting the cases because of being interviewed so may times by different individuals. Parents of the children would begin to tell authorities that they were not going to allow their children to be a part of the cases anymore because of the psychological effects the various interviewing was having on their children. The courts also treated the children that were testifying as if they had no competence at all. Therefore, the "Miami Method" was introduced and children were videotaped in their interview and the interview played during the trial. The interivew were the first and only interview conducted with the child and were expected to be believable. This method was first introduced in the Frank Fuster case. Shortly after the method was first introduced, a "state law was changed to allow children to testify from the judge's chambers. The method was also required physical evidence and the testimony of an adult eyewitness" ("The 'Miami Method' of Prosecuting..." NP).
The medical test in which Janet Reno and her team used as evidence against the Fusters' was that of Frank and Ileana's own son, Noel. Noel was the only child that physically showed signs of abuse. The other children than had come forth showed no signs of sexual abuse. Noel, however, when tested, tested positiv for gonorrhea of the throat. The test has been questioned, because the evidence was destroyed three days after the test and the ability to retest the evidence was now unable to occur ("A Summary of the Frank Fuster..." NP). Noel told Dr. Joseph Braga, the interviewer, that his father had not molested him. However, after repeated questioning and coercing, Noel told Dr. Braga that he had fellated Frank Fuster, his father. But when questioned a few months later, Noel swore that his father had not molested him and that the reason he told Dr. Braga he had, is because Dr. Braga refused to end the interview until he told him that his father had (Nathan).
The Bragas, Drs. Joseph and Laurie Braga, were hired to inverview the children ("Techniques in Interviewing..." NP). Often, the media has referred to them as psychologists or psychiatrists, but neither are true. According to Boston University, Laurie Braga has a doctorate in child development. Her husband, Joseph, has a doctorate in education. The two "have experience around designing early childhood education programs for publicly funded, inner-city-style day cares and preschools" (Nathan).
A confession was also used as evidence against Frank Fuster. The confession Reno's team presented as a main form of evidence was from Ileana Fuster, Frank's wife. Von Kamft began to devise a plan that would make Ileana appear to be an offender, only because she herself was a victim of her husband (Nathan). Janet Reno's office offered Ileana a reduced sentence in exchange for her confession that would convict her husband. Ileana did not want to confess at first, but after spending time in solitary confinement as well as multip interview with Behavior Changers, Inc., who "used relaxation techniques to help Ileana 'recover memories,' she confessed" (Rosenthal). Sometime later, Ileana recanted her confession stating: