Court: Do in-school interviews require warrants?

AP News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2010 12:43 PM
Court: Do in-school interviews require warrants?

The Supreme Court will decide whether child social workers should have to get warrants to interview potential victims of sex abuse at school when the alleged abuser lives at home.

The court decided to hear an appeal from Oregon officials and police officers who interviewed a potential victim at school.

They were worried that children were being abused by Nimrod Greene, who had already been previously arrested on a charge of sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy.

A social worker and a police officer interviewed a 9-year-old girl at the child's public school so Greene would not be around. The girl said during the interview that she had been sexually abused by Greene. The girl later recanted the statements.

Greene said he was innocent but agreed that a judge or jury could find him guilty.

But the girl's mother sued the police and the social worker, saying that they had unconstitutionally seized the 9-year-old girl at school when they removed her from her classroom, took her into another room and questioned her about possible sexual abuse.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying the social worker and police officer should have gotten a warrant, a court order or parental consent before talking to the child, or should have demonstrated that they acted with probable cause and under exigent circumstances.

Police and social workers say the courts should treat investigations of potential child abuse differently than they do criminal investigations.

The cases are Camreta v. Greene, 09-1451 and Alford v. Greene, 09-1478.