Parental Alienation Involving False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

There are very few topics that can spark as much emotion and negative attention as an allegation of child sexual abuse, especially when the accused is the child’s own parent. These accusations are taken very seriously by nearly all responsible adults, often without much thought given to whether or not the claims could have been fabricated by the other parent. It seems almost inconceivable that any parent would go so far as to make up such a terrible thing, which unfortunately creates somewhat of the perfect storm for the handful of very disturbed parents who are willing to stop at nothing to remove the child’s other parent from the picture. When done intentionally, false accusations of child sexual abuse are one of the most detrimental and extreme forms of parental alienation.

For parents who have been falsely accused of child sexual abuse, they tend to go through the investigation process feeling as if they are “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”, rather than “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”.

Understandably so, the devastating and damaging nature of child sexual abuse leads most professionals to err on the side of caution, reasoning that “it is better to be safe than sorry” with such serious matters. Unsupervised visitation or timesharing between the child and the accused parent immediately comes to a halt while a thorough investigation takes place. The accusations must then be explicitly ruled out by a variety of credible sources, which can often take months to complete. What this means to falsely accused parent and the child, is that their relationship is completely severed while everything is sorted out by professionals who cannot afford to be wrong about the child’s safety. This naturally causes terrible distress for the falsely accused, and more importantly, can lead to a lifetime of emotional disturbance for the child involved. When a secure bond is broken by the investigation lasting for extended periods of time, the children can develop an attachment disorder that affects not only their present behaviors, but also their ability to experience healthy relationships in adulthood.

The best line of defense against false accusations of sexual abuse by alienating parents is for the professionals involved to receive training not only on issues relating to childhood sexual abuse signs and symptoms, but also on the signs and symptoms of parental alienation and restrictive gatekeeping. This training should be received by the investigators, mental health clinicians, medical doctors, and all other individuals who are in the position to offer opinions on the validity of the claims. Without this specific knowledge, professionals will not be able to consider all of the possible alternative hypotheses to sexual abuse, leaving innocent parents and children with irreparable damage or loss of their relationship with one another.

If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of parental alienation through false accusations of child sexual abuse, it may be beneficial to consider hiring a forensically trained licensed psychologist to perform a thorough analysis of your case. Dr. Kristin Tolbert, the founder of the Psychological Center for Expert Evaluations, Inc., in Palm Beach County, Florida, has an unmatched ability to sift through the fine details and nuances of cases to identify psychological factors that may be going unnoticed or are inappropriately affecting the outcome of your case. Dr. Tolbert will provide your case with the attention it deserves and then present the facts in a way that people will listen.

Please call us today for a free consultation. We can be reached at (561) 429-2140 or by email at

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