May 15, 2019

CUA Law Professor Mary Graw Leary was quoted in a May 13 Washington Times article entitled "Supreme Court to decide if it will hear case of 4-year-old girl being stripped searched"

Supreme Court to decide if it will hear case of 4-year-old girl being stripped searched

April Woodard, a child abuse investigator, figured something was wrong with the 4-year-old girl who showed up at her Colorado school with bumps, cuts and bruises.

With the permission of her supervisor - but no notice to the child's mother, nor to any judges - Ms. Woodard, a case worker at the El Paso County Department of Human Services, performed a strip search to look for signs of abuse.

Now the Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether those suspicions were valid enough to justify the search. The justices will consider whether to take the case at a conference Thursday.

If the high court agrees to hear the appeal, it could be the first time the justices settle the dispute over what type of Fourth Amendment standard should apply to case workers involved in child abuse investigations.

"It's a very complicated area and it really brings out conflict between different bodies of laws or different social goods," said Mary Leary, a professor at the Catholic University of America.
. . .

Ms. Leary said the conflict between investigating allegations of child abuse and the criminal law factors that can arise from the results of a probe produce a "thorny issue."

"If we remember that the vast majority of child abuse cases involve someone in the household, you can see how that would make perfect sense for someone investigating child abuse … not being in the presence of the guardian," Ms. Leary said.
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Click here to read the full article.