Forensic interview specialist explains how Childhelp handles child abuse cases

An aunt charged with 12 counts of child abuse in Arizona had her second court appearance on Monday.

Police say 33-year-old Sarah Canez used a stun gun, firearm and zip ties on the children subjecting them to sexual abuse.

Forensic interview specialist, Jennifer Ingalls with Childhelp, says a lot of information is confidential as it’s an active case and involves juveniles.

"The rapport-building part of the interview is, you know, between five and seven minutes, and then we do talk about some really significant and severe abuse," Ingalls said.

Ingalls says Childhelp’s focus is making sure these kids don’t have to continuously relive their trauma.

Police say three kids, ages 16, 10 and 7, escaped from their aunt, running to a neighbor’s door early in the morning on June 17 pleading for help.

A witness said, "He had bruises all over his body, more on his face on the side of his face, and then he had zip ties on his hands. He barely could walk. He was really pale. He said that he didn't eat for days."


Gun, tasers and zipties found as evidence in Phoenix child abuse case, aunt charged with abusing 3 relatives

An aunt is behind bars after police say she kidnapped and abused her niece and nephews in Phoenix. Sarah Canez, 33, was charged with 12 counts of child abuse.

The kids were taken to Childhelp in Phoenix where police learned the details of the abuse.

Forensic interview specialists, like Ingalls, help protect kids from reliving what they’ve been through.

"We really want to make sure that we're not duplicating those kinds of investigative things that are happening. So multiple interviews, multiple exams, we want to be able to do all of that in one place," she explained.

During a search warrant of Canez’s apartment, police say they found a handgun, stun guns, zip ties, a knife, plastic bags, and wooden objects. 

All forensic interviews are audio and video recorded so that they are preserved as evidence.

"We have a complete medical team at Phenix Children's Hospital, their child protection team, and we have two pediatric suites where they can have all of that done in a very trauma-informed, neutral, child-friendly environment," Ingalls said.

Childhelp continues to work with kids offering therapy and resources after their initial visit.

"I just hope that they came here and felt that this was a safe place to be, that they could share their story uninhibited, without feeling any pressure or coercion, that this was a neutral, safe space for them," Ingalls said.

These kids had already lost their mom, and it’s unclear how she died. That’s why they were living with their aunt.

In Canez's initial interview with police, she said she didn’t want to care for the children anymore.