The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled the Department of Child Services can interview children without a parent’s permission if those children are witnesses to cases of abuse.
Last year, a 12-year-old girl alleged that her stepfather sexually abused her. During a later interview at a child advocacy center in Bloomington the girl recanted her statements.
That prompted the DCS to file a court order, asking that the parents be forced to make her 9-year-old sister available for an interview in an attempt to clarify the discrepancies in the girl’s two accounts.
The parents refused and appealed the case—an appeal which was struck down Wednesday.
Brown Circuit Court Judge Terry Crone says the DCS must consider the welfare of all children in its cases, making the interview a reasonable request.
But Michael Auger, the lawyer for the children’s mother, says the ruling gives the state department too much authority.
“This goes far beyond assessing the child’s condition to ensure that they’re safe,” Auger said. “And in fact, this is very invasive, in my mind, in nature.”
Department of Child Services officials declined to comment on specifics of the case because of ongoing litigation. Auger says he and his client are still deciding whether to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.