The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling Thursday requiring child welfare workers to seek a warrant or parental consent before interviewing children who may have been sexually abused. The case originated in Bend.
In 2003 a child protective services worker and a sheriff’s deputy walked into a Bend elementary school to interview a nine-year-girl.
Authorities believed she may had been abused by her father. They wanted to interview her without her parent’s consent.
The girl’s mother sued, claiming the interview violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizures.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and effectively banned the practice throughout the West.
But in a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court threw out that decision. Because the girl has since moved away from Oregon, the court determined she no longer had a stake in the outcome of the case and therefore, no right to appeal.
The court did not address the constitutionality of the interviews.
Attorney General John Kroger says he believes such interviews are legal and says the state will defend them should the matter come up again.