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Not All Child Complainants of Sexual Abuse Are Treated the Same  


Author:  Patricia A. Ferreira, A.A., B.A..; Twila Wingrove, J.D., Ph.D..


Source: Volume 22, Number 02, February/March 2021 , pp.26-31(6)




Sex Offender Law Report

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Abstract: 

In child sexual abuse cases, jurors heavily weigh the credibility of the complainant when rendering their verdict. One concern is that jurors oftentimes base their subjective yet highly consequential credibility judgments on factors that provide no true indication as to whether the incident in question actually occurred. This paper provides a broad overview of research elucidating the connection between complainant credibility and juror decision-making, with a focus on jurors’ tendency to discriminate against older child complainants of sexual abuse. In closing, a discussion is offered regarding a potential solution that may help address jurors’ biases toward older child complainants, thereby increasing conviction rates in child sexual abuse trials.

Keywords: Factors Contributing to Under-Prosecution; Considerations of Complainant’s Credibility; Jurors’ Biases

Affiliations:  1: Appalachian State University; 2: Appalachian State University.

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