32 McGeorge L. Rev. 693 (2000-2001)
True Or False Accusations: Protecting Victims of Child Sexual Abuse during Custody Disputes

handle is hein.journals/mcglr32 and id is 703 raw text is: Family Law

True or False Accusations?: Protecting Victims of Child
Sexual Abuse During Custody Disputes
Paula D. Salinger
Code Sections Affected
Family Code §§ 3027, 3118 (new) 1816, 3110.5, 3112 (amended), 3027
(renumbered); Welfare and Institutions Code § 827 (amended).
SB 1716 (Ortiz); 2000 STAT. Ch. 926
I. INTRODUCTION
The situation has become a reality for some families: A couple in the midst of
a divorce are involved in mediation or an evaluation regarding custody and
visitation of their children, and the mother accuses the father of sexually abusing
their children.' The evaluator in the case finds no evidence of abuse, and the father
in turn accuses the mother of parental alienation.2 In these situations, the children
are the ones who suffer the most, as the truth seems difficult to ascertain.3
Consequently, if the children are victims of abuse, they are still forced to spend time
with their father, the perpetrator. If the children are not victims of abuse, they are
thrown into the middle of a fight between their mother and father.' Either way, the
children are victims. Many parents, particularly mothers, struggle to protect their
children from sexual abuse, and, all too often, their efforts fail.6
Child sexual abuse is a common occurrence in the United States and throughout
the world.7 Depending on how the research is conducted, studies indicate that child
sexual abuse is committed by fathers or stepfathers anywhere from six to thirty
percent of the time when a female child is sexually abused. Typically, this type of
familial sexual abuse is more devastating to children than abuse by a stranger;
1.  See JOHN E.B. MYERS, A MOTHER'S NIGHTMARE-INCEST 1-10 (1997) (discussing in general terms the
process that frequently occurs during dissolution proceedings involving child sexual abuse).
2.  Id. at 7-8.
3.  Id. at 1-10.
4.  Id.
5.  Id.
6.  Id. at 10.
7.  Id. at 15.
8.  Id. at 44-45 (explaining that some researchers have questioned women in the general population, and
those studies have produced results indicating that approximately 6% to 16% of women who experienced sexual
abuse during childhood reported their father or stepfather as the perpetrator). Other studies of survivors in therapy
produced a higher result, with fathers and stepfather accounting for approximately one-third of the perpetrators. Id.

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