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Forensic Interviews

CornerHouse offers a safe and confidential place for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults, who are suspected victims or witnesses of abuse, to talk about their experiences.

CornerHouse staff members are constantly engaged in assessing and increasing the comfort level of each individual, preventing additional trauma, and eliciting accurate information. Our interviewers are highly-trained, objective and compassionate professionals who know how to put people at ease. The interviewers use the CornerHouse Forensic Interview Protocol™, an interviewing protocol that CornerHouse developed and that is now widely used across the country and the globe.

CornerHouse abides by a “Child First Philosophy,” which ensures that the needs of the individual are given first priority during the forensic interview process. The forensic interview is person-centered and is aligned with the cognitive, behavioral, and social abilities of each individual.

Forensic interviews are conducted as one component of an investigation; cases are referred by law enforcement or child/adult protection investigators. A forensic interview is a neutral, fact-finding inquiry conducted with consideration for the developmental and emotional needs of each individual. The interview provides an opportunity for the individual to report any experiences they may have had, and allows the individual to provide details regarding those experiences.

CornerHouse Room 4CornerHouse Room 5

CornerHouse conducts forensic interviews in a manner that is considerate of each individual’s culture and ethnicity. In cases where English is not the language spoken in the individual’s home, CornerHouse can arrange for a professional interpreter to be utilized in the interview, at no charge to the family or the investigators. Based on the individual’s presentation, the interviewer may make selective use of a variety of interview tools such as anatomical drawings and anatomical dolls, which represent a range of ages and ethnicities.

Every CornerHouse interview is video-recorded on DVD, and is observed in real time by multidisciplinary team members through closed-circuit television. All interview recordings are also preserved in a digital archive, and a copy is provided to the primary investigator. Video-recordings ensure accurate documentation of the interview, which can decrease the potential trauma associated with repeated interviews, and strengthen the defensibility of the interview. In addition, the forensic interviewer provides a written report summarizing the individual’s affect and ability and the multidisciplinary team's recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for the interview?

A law enforcement or child/adult protection investigator may refer any individual from 2 years, 8 months old through age 17, or a vulnerable adult who is thought to be a victim of neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or who may have witnessed a violent crime.

CornerHouse’s primary service area is Hennepin County; however, referrals from investigators in greater Minnesota are accepted on a fee-for-service basis. Under certain circumstances, CornerHouse may be able to assist with out-of-state investigations if the alleged victim is currently located in Minnesota. CornerHouse interviews alleged victims and witnesses only; we do not interview suspects of any age. Alleged perpetrators cannot transport clients or be present at CornerHouse during an interview.

Please see Intake and Referral page for more information.

What happens before the interview?

A Forensic Assistant and/or a trained CornerHouse volunteer will greet the individual, and those who accompany him/her. There are toys and activities available for individuals of all ages. Typically, an individual may wait for a short period of time before their interview appointment begins.

The multidisciplinary team meets briefly to review intake information, share information about the alleged victim’s abilities and convey additional basic, relevant information so that the interviewer can best conduct the forensic interview.

The interviewer may meet with any accompanying caregiver to briefly review the interview process and to gather additional information.

Family Services may be offered to the accompanying caregivers.

What happens during the interview?

A forensic interview typically begins with a rapport-building process designed to help the individual feel as comfortable as possible. Interviewers seek information by providing multiple opportunities for the individual to share any experiences they may have had in a non-leading, forensically-sound manner. Interviewers explore the individual’s statements and allow them to share as many details about their experience as they can. Interviewers ask questions in a way that is developmentally attuned to the individual’s cognitive, social, and emotional abilities. Multidisciplinary team members observe the interview via closed-circuit television, and may call down to the interview room to request that a particular question be asked. Interviewers adapt each interview based on each individual’s needs and abilities.

All interviews utilize The CornerHouse Forensic Interview Protocol™.

What happens after the interview?

Following the forensic interview, the multidisciplinary team members participate in a post-interview meeting to share information pertaining to the future direction of the investigation(s), services to be offered to the alleged victim and family, and possible medical and therapeutic recommendations.

The CornerHouse Forensic Interviewer will provide a written report summarizing the child's affect and ability and the multidisciplinary team's recommendations.

Investigators may meet with caregivers after the interview to answer questions and share the next steps in the investigation.

Download the CornerHouse Protocol Card here.

Here is a helpful video that gives you a tour of CornerHouse and shows you what to expect during a forensic interview.
serving webinar

View the "Serving Sexually Exploited Youth At your CAC" Webinar from 7/31/2015, sponsored by the MN Children's Alliance, on YouTube here.

Download and view the webinar for use on your computer or to project in a meeting here.

Webinar is approx. 80 minutes.

Quotes from caregivers

"After her interview she just seemed so much lighter and happier... she had a bounce to her step. It was like telling her story lifted the weight of the world off of her shoulders."


To read an article in the APSAC Advisor about CornerHouse’s evolution in practice, please click here.


Reflections on Emerging Issues

CornerHouse is committed to meaningful dialogue on practice and research issues in the field of forensic interviewing. To help facilitate this dialogue, we launched a series called Reflections on Emerging Issues. It is our hope that these Reflections will encourage conversation and continue to advance our field, helping all of us to serve children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults utilizing best practices. Examples of topics include: Developmental Expectations, Forensic Use of Anatomical Diagrams, Orienting Messages, and Tell Me Everything.