September 17, 2021
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District Attorney’s review of child abuse case

July 9, 2021

 The District Attorney’s Office has received inquiries regarding a flyer that has circulated concerning a child abuse investigation.  In an effort to provide clarity on the issue, the following facts can be shared.  Whenever a suspicion of child abuse is raised, the Sonoma County law enforcement community has a well-established and proven procedure to thoroughly investigate those suspicions.  A multi-disciplinary approach is employed any time child abuse is suspected, in keeping with national best-practices. The team is comprised of law enforcement agency detectives and their counterparts from Child Welfare, social workers, medical professionals, all with expertise in child abuse, as well as the District Attorney’s team of prosecutors who are specially assigned to handle child abuse cases.  When criminal conduct is suspected, the team discusses each investigation at length, offers recommendations as to a necessary follow up for the detective or medical professional to conduct, then further discusses the final investigation to determine whether a criminal case can be brought.   

While the details of the case referred to in the flyer being circulated are protected by confidentiality laws, the following facts can be provided.  The child was evaluated by healthcare professionals, including experts in the field of child abuse, who shared their opinions with law enforcement officials at the Sheriff’s Office and investigators at Child Protective Services.  Discussion was had among the multi-disciplinary team.  Ultimately the Sheriff’s Office’s thorough investigation was unable to establish sufficient facts to support probably cause to believe a crime had occurred.  In such a situation, as here, the investigative reports were not forwarded to the DA’s Office for further review.   The child’s mother did contact the District Attorney’s Office for reports and was advised to contact the investigating agency.  An explanation of the process outlined above was provided as well.

 The District Attorney’s office takes child abuse allegations extremely seriously; that is why the office and its partners insist that the multidisciplinary approach is followed, and why the office dedicates a team of its most highly skilled attorneys to this role.  In cases of suspected child abuse, the public is encouraged to contact your local police department or Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services.  If the child is taken to a medical care facility, personnel will contact the appropriate agency as well.