Allegations of Sexual Abuse against Foster Carers

December 20, 2016

The UK has a complex system of laws to guard against children being subject to sexual abuse, for which severe consequences can follow a finding of guilt. Foster carers are incredibly vulnerable to allegations of sexual abuse by those in their care and their family members. Foster care by its very nature takes place in the home, and involves the raising of children that have been removed from their parents with a view to protecting their welfare. This environment and the surrounding circumstances can make it very easy for a claim for sexual abuse to be raised.

At Tuckers Solicitors we have specialist knowledge and experience of acting for client foster carers alleged to have committed sexual abuse against children in their charge. We appreciate that being charged with having committed sexual abuse against a child can be incredibly damaging, both to the accused and to those around them. We make it a priority to provide our clients with access to legal experts who can aggressively defend their interests in any criminal investigation/ litigation for suspected sexual abuse.

What is the law on sexual offences against children?

The law on sexual offences is incredibly complex. There are in practice two different kinds of sexual abuse that relate to children:

Contact abuse

The law in respect of contact abuse is largely related to physical contact with children which is sexual in nature. This includes touching children, regardless of whether they are clothed or not, as well as forcing (or even encouraging) them to take part in a sexual act.

Non-contact abuse

Non-contact abuse is behaviour which does not involve contact, but nonetheless sexualises a child. The law prohibits the encouraging of a child to watch or hear sexual activity, the sharing of pornographic material with children and failure to take the necessary measures to prevent a child from being exposed to the sexual activities of others.

The law on sexual offences as it applies to children is designed to prevent them being exposed to behaviour which could compromise their safety and wellbeing. Those individuals that take on the responsibility of being foster carers owe a special obligation to those in their care, not to subject them to any kind of behaviour or activity that could be deemed to be abusive in nature.

The difficulty for many foster carers is that children are often placed in their care owing to a belief that their home environment is not able to safeguard their welfare. As a result, foster carers may be forced to deal with hostile parents who may seek to allege sexual abuse with a view to frustrating the fostering arrangement. Equally, children too may also resent being placed in foster care and allege illegality with no substantive evidence to support their claim.

Defence Against Sexual Abuse Allegations for Foster Carers

It is impossible to completely guard against the possibility of allegations of sexual abuse being raised – the circumstances that often surround a fostering arrangement being put in place often make it incredibly fertile ground for allegations of illegality to be made. However, that does not mean that they should not consult with specialist defence lawyers that are sufficiently experienced to be able to provide an effective defence to allegations of illegality.

There are various systems and procedures in place to protect those that allege being the subject of sexual abuse. These are largely aimed at protecting the identity and long term wellbeing of individuals alleging to have been sexually abused.  These are incredibly important in respects of children, but such protection is often lacking in respect of those who need to defend against such allegations. The reality is that a mere allegation, much less a conviction, for having committed sexual abuse against a child can have major implications for foster carers – confidence in their ability to discharge their responsibilities is immediately compromised, jeopardising the ability for them to continue their work if found guilty of an offence they did not commit. Further the wider impact can also be significant, in that they may be alienated by their neighbours and family for merely being implicated in legal proceedings connected with child abuse. Conviction too carries with it significant consequences: there could be a lengthy period of imprisonment issued, together with life-long monitoring by regulators. Further, individuals convicted of sexual abuse against children will likely never be able to take up such a role (or others involving contact with children) again.

Individuals facing allegations for sexual abuse of foster children must take decisive action in order to fully respond to them. It is paramount that they instruct a leading team of defence lawyers that understand how this complex area of the law works, and how to construct evidence and litigate effectively to provide a vigorous defence to allegations of criminality.

Contact Tuckers for Specialist Advice and Representation

Tuckers Solicitors is a leading provider of defence and advisory services in connection with child abuse allegations. We have developed particular expertise in defending foster carer clients facing such allegations, and are intimately familiar with the process that the police and prosecutors take in investigating them.

Our goal is always to protect the interests of our clients, and to ensure that they are subject to an investigation and trial that is fair and where evidence is fully tested to determine its quality and persuasiveness. We understand that many individuals facing allegations for having committed sexual abuse may feel that the legal system is geared against them. While it is true that allegations of abuse must be fully investigated, defendants must also be afforded full access to legal expertise and representation to avoid being convicted for crimes that are not fully supported by convincing evidence.

At Tuckers Solicitors we take an aggressive approach to the defence of our clients: we review the entirety of the case made out against you and will conduct an exacting investigation into the supporting evidence. We also liaise with other parties with a view to constructing a full picture of events, compiling reports with assistance from social work and other interested parties, to rebut the allegations made against you. If you need advice and representation from specialised criminal defence lawyers, contact the team at Tuckers today.