Names of all children and their families have been changed.
The testimony and statements of child victims is necessarily a central
component of child sex abuse prosecutions. Eliciting that testimony often
requires careful interviewing - a process that over the years has received
increasing scrutiny by child researchers, psychologists and attorneys.
Prosecutors rely on the integrity of the interviews to establish the
credibility of the child's claims. On the other hand, defense attorneys often
dissect the interview techniques looking for patterns of suggestion or coercion
that may result in unreliable statements.
In the case against Harold Grant Snowden, the chief prosecution witness, five
year-old Leslie Blandes (not her real name), was interviewed by Dr. Laurie
Braga. In 1984, Dr. Braga and her husband, Dr. Joseph Braga, were recruited by
State Attorney Janet Reno to assist the State with its child sex abuse
investigations. At the insistence of the Bragas, the child interviews were
videotaped. State laws would later be changed to allow children's videotaped
statements to be used as evidence in child sexual abuse trials.
Dr. Braga testified at Snowden's trial and offered explanation and
defense of her interviewing methods
Dr. Stephen Ceci, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, and a
nationally recognized expert on children's memory and interviewing techniques,
discusses problems he identified with Dr. Braga's method of
In the debate over interviewing techniques, it is commonly argued
that the interviews are selectively analyzed - that a full appreciation of the
child's statement can only be viewed by examining the entire transcript.
Therefore, the full transcript of Dr. Braga's interview with 'Leslie'
is provided here.