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Rita Farrell

Rita Farrell

Forensic Interview Specialist,
Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center

Travels from Indiana | DOWNLOAD BIO



Rita Farrell has more than 18 years of experience working with child abuse investigations as a forensic interviewer and founding executive director of a Child Advocacy Center. In her role as chief administrator and fundraiser for the Center, Rita admits that her role as a forensic interviewer of child abuse victims is her “true passion.”

After graduating from Ball State University with a degree in secondary education, Rita began teaching in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. While raising her two sons in Fishers, Ind., Rita held various leadership positions throughout the community. In July 2000, Rita undertook the challenge of opening Chaucie’s Place, a Child Advocacy Center in Hamilton County, Ind. The combination of her roles as executive director and forensic interviewer naturally led Rita to become involved with state and national organizations in the field of child abuse.

Rita currently serves as the forensic interview specialist of Gundersen NCPTC at NorthWest Arkansas Community College. She manages the ChildFirst® Arkansas program and the development of advanced training courses and programs for forensic interviewers. Rita has conducted more than 1,500 child interviews, testified in many court cases and has trained for the ChildFirst® program in Indiana since 2002. Rita is a certified law enforcement instructor and has trained at the national level since 2006 on many child abuse related topics. She has authored five articles specific to forensic interviewing of child abuse victims.

As a public speaker, Rita continues to champion the cause of child advocacy by addressing local agencies, schools and universities on child-related topics. In addition to participating as a faculty member for the ChildFirst® Indiana program, Rita served as a board member for the Indiana Coalition of Child Advocacy Centers. She is a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and serves on numerous councils, task forces and boards in the areas of child abuse and domestic violence.

Rita was presented with the U.S. Attorney General’s award for “Outstanding Service to Victims of Crime” by the U.S. Attorney General of Indiana, and is also the recipient of the “Champion for Children” award from the CornerHouse Interagency Child Abuse Evaluation and Training Center in Minneapolis, Minn.


Forensic Interviewing

  • Forensic interviewing of children
  • Expanded forensic interviews
  • Interviewing victims of trafficking
  • Overcoming difficult situations in forensic interviews
  • What question do I ask next? Breaking down forensic interviewer questions
  • Interviewing children with development challenges
  • Forensic interviews with adolescents
  • Forensic interviews with young children
  • Peer review and our forensic interviews
  • The use of anatomical dolls and diagrams in the forensic interview
  • Forensic interviewer questions and suggestibility
  • Recording technology and the child interview
  • Shadow children—addressing child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation within the family
  • Interviewing reluctant children

Child Maltreatment

  • Our FIRST response to child maltreatment—first responder interviews
  • Mandated reporting
  • Child abuse dynamics and disclosure
  • Child development
  • Assessing children's statements

Expert Witness

  • Forensic interviewing
  • Delayed disclosure
  • Recantation

Forensic Interviewing and Court

  • Defending the forensic interview in court
  • Forensic interviewers working with their prosecutor
  • Corroborating evidence within the scope of the forensic interview: Wait, I'm not an investigator, so what does that even mean?
  • Understanding and defending recantation in cases of child abuse
  • Preparing children for court

Multidisciplinary Team/CAC

  • Playing nice in the sandbox—developing effective multidisciplinary teams
  • Preparing children for our process: Finding the balance between saying too much, but not saying enough
  • Child advocacy center development


  • Empower me! K-6th grade child abuse prevention education
  • Self-care for teens
  • Smart not scared—personal safety messages for teens and college students



Gundersen NCPTC training testimonials

"Rita is great. I learn great techniques from her sessions. Bring her back next year!"

"For a long time, I've been wanting a practical presentation on forensic interviewing. I LOVED the practical examples Rita provided. It was EXTREMELY helpful!!!"

"Very helpful and made me feel not alone in the struggle. Gave good points and ideas on how to handle these kinds of kids."

"Obvious expert in field. Her passion shows. Great session."

"Great info for new and seasoned interviewers! Rita also has a great presentation style."

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