7:59 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2012
Child abuse: How can we tell?
"In one courtroom, a judge apparently doesn't believe reports of a 6-year-old's accounts of his father's violence are serious enough to warrant taking him from that home.
In another, a different judge hears about a 4-year-old who says his parents locked him in a basement and that the boy's 5-year-old sister might have been sexually abused because she could describe her father's body parts. Yet the children's parents say neither is true.
And in the well-publicized case of 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis, whose father was recently convicted of torturing and murdering the boy in November after years of abuse, testimony indicated that the Sturgis children usually denied they were being abused. Much of the questioning was conducted in the presence of their father or after he had been notified of the allegations.
When to believe the words of children -- often the only witnesses of their mistreatment -- is not an exact science [not a science at all], experts acknowledge."
8:10 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2012
More on child abuse: What really happened?
"SOUTH BEND -- In Courtroom 1 of the Juvenile Justice Center, the tense body language of the several adults standing before the elevated judge suggests what is at stake: who will raise two children taken from their South Bend home in November.
Judge Peter Nemeth is presiding over a six-month review hearing in the case involving a 4-year-old boy, his 5-year-old sister and their parents, Rodney and Stephanie Cotten.
According to documents and that day's testimony, Department of Child Services workers, the children's therapist and their court-appointed special advocate say the children should be removed from their parents permanently and adopted by others.
The Cottens say they're willing to comply with an earlier court order for counseling -- that moving to another state and DCS delays in providing paperwork have complicated their attempts to find those services -- and that the abuses officials say their children have disclosed are untrue."