Officer in Grafner Case Lacked Child Interview Training: Questioned Boy in Abuse Case

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The Denver Post

In a case that demonstrates the importance of training law enforcement officials who interview allegedly abused children, a Denver detective admits that the questions he asked a boy months before the boy’s death were “leading” and may have unwittingly distorted the boy’s answers about being abused. The 7-year-old boy, Chandler Grafner, died of starvation and dehydration last May, after child protection authorities had returned him to his home. (See related story about such cases, Report Roundup, page 24.) At the trial of the suspects in the boy’s murder, Detective Curtis Johnson testified that he had had no formal training on how to question a child. He had entered Denver’s child-abuse unit just three weeks before interviewing Chandler. Experts say that children are vulnerable to suggestions about facts by authority figures, and that open-ended questions minimize distortion. April 3,