Investigations

Process by which reported allegations are found to be substantiated or unsubstantiated.
Investigations
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Overview

Once a report is made to the Justice Center, two types of cases can be created: administrative and criminal.  An administrative investigation is conducted into every allegation of abuse and neglect.  A criminal investigation is conducted into all cases that have an allegation of potential criminal offense.  In addition, local District Attorneys are notified of every allegation of abuse or neglect reported to the Justice Center.

Administrative investigations will be conducted by the Justice Center, the State Oversight Agency, or the provider depending on the severity and setting of the allegation.  Every investigation is reviewed by the Justice Center once complete, regardless of what entity conducts it.  Every allegation reported to the Justice Center is either substantiated or unsubstantiated at the conclusion of the review process. 

Criminal investigations are conducted by the Justice Center, local law enforcement, or a combination of the two.  The Justice Center's Special Prosecutor/Inspector General has the ability to file criminal charges.  Alternately, the local District Attorney can file criminal charges, or the two can work jointly on cases.  

Notifications

 

Notification Table
Subject In most cases, if you are identified as a subject in an allegation of abuse or neglect, the Justice Center or State Oversight Agency which oversees the facility or program will notify you within 24 hours.  You will be provided with an incident or case serial number (also known as a confirmation number).  Please use this number if you have additional information related to the report or you are seeking information from the Justice Center about the report.  
Victim If you are identified as a victim in an allegation of abuse or neglect, the facility or program will notify you within 24 hours.  You will be provided with an incident or case serial number (also known as a confirmation number).  Please use this number if you have additional information related to the report or you are seeking information from the Justice Center about the report.  
Parents, Guardians and/or Personal Representatives

The program or provider provides notification to the legal guardian or personal representative after the program or provider learns that an allegation was made to the VPCR hotline.  

A “personal representative” is someone who is legally permitted to act on behalf of the service recipient.

 

 

Interview Overview

Investigators will question subjects (e.g., employee, volunteer, intern, consultant, contractor) who are alleged to have committed the act of abuse or neglect as well as anyone who may have information about an incident including victims and witnesses. Only staff may be considered to be subjects of an investigation. All interviews and interrogations conducted by the Justice Center are recorded.

 

 

Victim/Witness Interviews

The purpose of the interview is to learn what you know about a reported incident.  You will be notified of the location, date, and time of the interview.  Your interview is voluntary and you may take breaks during the interview.  You should let the investigator know if you need an accessibility accommodation during the interview or if you do not understand something that is said. 

Investigators collect materials and documents as part of the investigation process.  Investigators will only ask to see personal items if it they are needed to complete the investigation.

Subject Interviews

A “subject” refers to the individual named in the allegation as committing the act of abuse or neglect. 

If you are a member of a union and your collective bargaining agreement provides for legal counsel or a union representative to be present during questioning for administrative investigations, the Justice Center will follow the rights in your collective bargaining agreement. Please contact your union representative or your employer, if you have questions about what is permitted in your collective bargaining agreement or contract.
If you are not a member of a union, you may have an attorney accompany you during questioning. In order to protect your interests, the Justice Center will take steps to ensure that you are aware of any conflicts the attorney representing you may have (e.g., if the attorney representing you also works for your employer).

Final Determinations

Every allegation of abuse or neglect reported to the Justice Center is either substantiated or unsubstantiated.  If substantiated, the allegation is assigned a category level. 

Substantiated 

Allegations may be substantiated if an investigation determines that there is a preponderance of evidence to support the allegation.  Preponderance of the evidence means that a review of the evidence shows the abuse and/or neglect was more likely than not to have occurred. Substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect are classified into one of four categories depending on the severity.  

Category Levels

1 Serious physical abuse, sexual abuse or other severe conduct by a subject. A Category 1 substantiation places the subject on the Staff Exclusion List (SEL). It also includes a second instance of Category 2 conduct that occurs within three years of a prior Category 2 finding. Subjects on the SEL remain on the list forever.  Individuals on the Staff Exclusion List are prohibited from being hired by any state operated, certified or licensed provider agencies or providers that serve people with special needs.
2 A subject significantly endangers the health, safety or welfare of a service recipient by committing an act of abuse or neglect. Category 2 offenses are sealed after five years and are not publicly available.
3 Less serious incidents of abuse or neglect. Reports are sealed after five years. Future employers do not receive any information about these incidents and they are not publicly available.
4 Conditions at a program or facility expose people receiving services to harm or risk of harm. Category 4 also includes instances in which it has been substantiated that an individual receiving services has been abused or neglected, but a perpetrator cannot be identified.

 

Unsubstantiated

A report may be determined to be "unsubstantiated" for a variety of reasons.  For instance, there may not be enough evidence to confirm that an incident occurred or a specific individual may not be able to be identified as responsible for the incident.  An unsubstantiated finding does not prevent employers from imposing other consequences which may include employee discipline, additional supervision, and training.

 

Finding out the results of an investigation

A letter of findings (called a "letter of determination") is mailed to the subject of the investigation as well as the victim or their personal representative, the director of the facility or provider agency, and the State Oversight Agency that licenses or certifies the facility or provider.  A notification is made whether the allegation is substantiated or unsubstantiated.

Witnesses are not legally entitled to investigative findings.  

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