SJVPA General Meeting with Dr. Susan Napolitano Presenting

  • 20 Jan 2020
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Black Bear Diner - 3602 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93711


Registration is closed

Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

and the Child Forensic Interview

Presented by Susan Napolitano, Ph.D.

SJVPA is pleased to welcome Susan Napolitano, Ph.D. for our January CE presentation and General Meeting. Dr. Napolitano  is a Sexually Violent Predator Evaluator (SVPE) with the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) and has treated and evaluated victims of sexual violence in her private practice almost 30 years.   Specializing in clinical and forensic psychology, Dr. Napolitano has more than 25 years experience as an expert witness in civil, criminal and family and Federal court cases.  As an expert, Dr. Napolitano has testified on behalf of prosecutors, plaintiffs and defendants in close to 100 cases involving sexual abuse allegations, child custody, violence and sexual violence risk assessments, malpractice and personal injury.  Dr. Napolitano earned her Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology in Fresno, CA. in 1991 followed by two years of post-doctoral training in child, adolescent and adult clinical psychology at the Sullivan Center for Children. She received specialized training from the Child Abuse Training and Technical Assistance (CATTA) centers and served on a multidisciplinary law enforcement team as Child Forensic Interview Specialist with the Madera Child Sexual Abuse Assault Response Team (CSART) from 2006 through 2010.

Understanding the dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) informs both the investigation and adjudication of abuse allegations.  This presentation will delve into the reasons child victims provide delayed and often unconvincing disclosures of CSA as well why evidence related to abuse claims is best gathered using a formal Child Forensic Interview (CFI) technique.  Presenters will review victim/perpetrator sexual abuse dynamics and explain why it often easier for victims to endure sexual abuse than to face the family disruption, disbelief, blame, shame and fear that often follows a disclosure. Sexual abusers position themselves in families, schools, sports teams, churches and other environments to locate potential victims.  Because most sexual abusers “groom” their victims and their environment, the stage is set for victim access and compliance while at the same time dissuading victim disclosure.  Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS), described by Roland Summit in the 1980’s, is a theory originally designed to teach treating professionals the reasons children are so reluctant to disclose abuse.  Expert testimony related to CSAAS is often offered in court to address juror misconceptions about a victim or to rebut an attack on a victim’s credibility. 

Although theories of CSA may be useful in the investigation and adjudication of a child sex abuse case, evidence of a crime is undoubtedly more persuasive and harder to obtain.  A properly conducted Child Forensic Interview (CFI) is designed to uncover and memorialize valuable information used to investigate and adjudicate sex crimes.  Information related to specific offense details, the relationship with the accused, grooming techniques and physical evidence can be unearthed during the CFI and pursued by investigators.  Trier’s of fact can later examine how the child was questioned and what they said early in the disclosure process. 

A forensic interview of a child is a developmentally sensitive and legally sound method of gathering factual information regarding allegations of abuse and is conducted by a competently trained, neutral professional who uses research and practice-informed techniques as part of a larger investigative process.  The forensic interview is one component of a comprehensive child abuse investigation; which includes but is not limited to, the following disciplines: law enforcement, CPS, prosecutors, victim advocates and medical and mental health practitioners.  The presenter will also examine the cultural context of allegations and how a child’s developmental stage, memory and language capacity, and the impact of trauma influence disclosure and interview techniques. 

After this workshop attendees will:

1.      Describe and understand the history and applicability of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) and how it is used in courts

2.      Describe and understand abuse related dynamics that result in victims submitting to abuse, returning willingly to perpetrators and failing to tell others about the abuse

3.      Identify and understand various forms of grooming child victims

4.      List the risks of multiple interviews and unstructured questioning of children who disclose abuse allegations

5.      Differentiate aspects of memory, interview style and situations most likely to elicit inaccurate reports of abuse versus those that facilitate accurate and thorough reporting

6.      List and understand best practices with regard to interviewing children when an abuse allegation is made

7.      List interview techniques designed to facilitate most accurate and complete disclosures of abuse

Continuing Education: 1 hours credit provided by the Sullivan Center for Children, an authorized provider of continuing education credit through the American Psychological Association (APA).  CE credit is approved for Psychologists, MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs

The Sullivan Center for Children is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Sullivan Center for Children maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

For questions, comments, or concerns regarding SC4C CE program content, material, registration, or any related manners, please contact our Continuing Education Coordinator Kaitlyn Nichols, Psy.D., at (559) 271-1186, or email

Important Notice: Those who attend the event for continuing education credit, pay the required fees, and complete the evaluation form will receive ( 1 ) continuing education credit. Please note that APA CE rules require that we only give credit to those who attend the entire event. Those arriving more than 15 minutes after the start time or leaving before the event is completed will not receive CE credit. No partial credit is allowed.

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