Question: What happens during a CPS investigation for a child sex crime case in Wisconsin?

Answer: So CPS is Child Protective Services and they have pretty broad powers to investigate an accusation. So if someone calls in and says, “This child has been sexually abused,” or “There’s some question about what happened here.” It can be a family member, it can be other people that ultimately report this. So CPS, Child Protective Services, will investigate that. They will follow up on information, try to interview the child, family members, school, whoever might have information about it. And then they generally will gather that information and write a report and what they do here is determine whether that accusation, whether that allegation is substantiated, meaning that there is evidence at least to support the statement that this happened—or whether it’s unsubstantiated, meaning they couldn’t really find evidence that would support a sex crime having been involved. It’s not a criminal investigation, but obviously it can have serious consequences.

The statements, the investigation done, if it turns up information that is harmful can obviously be used by law enforcement if a further investigation is done or if a criminal prosecution is begun. So that can have serious consequences. Even without a criminal case having been started initially or even in the future, a Child Protective Services or CPS designation can have serious consequences in regard to visitation with a child or placement in a family or things like that depending on what the situation is.

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