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NCJ Number: 206738 Find in a Library
Title: Impact of Type of Out-of-Court Disclosure in a Child Sexual Assault Trial
Journal: Child Maltreatment  Volume:9  Issue:3  Dated:August 2004  Pages:325-334
Author(s): John A. Yozwiak; Jonathan M. Golding; D. F. Marsil
Date Published: August 2004
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the impact of type of out-of-court disclosure made by child victims of sexual assault.
Abstract: Previous research has established that child victims of sexual assault are often viewed as believable witnesses, more so than adolescents and adults. Many believe that children under the age of about 10 lack the requisite knowledge to lie about sexual assault. The current study examined whether children are always believed in cases of sexual assault or if there are circumstances in which the nature of out-of-court disclosures of the sexual assault by the alleged child victim weakens the believability of the alleged victim. This is an important area of focus because studies have shown that child victims of sexual assault are often reluctant to disclose information pertaining to the assault. Participants were 74 randomly selected community members who read a fictional criminal trial summary of a child sexual assault case in which the alleged victim’s out-of-court disclosure of the assault was varied. In one version, the disclosure of the assault was complete on two occasions, while in the second version, the disclosure of the assault was at first incomplete, but later included the full account of the assault. Participants completed questionnaires in which they provided a verdict, judged the guilt of the defendant, rated their confidence in their verdict, listed the reasons for their verdict, and provided a sentencing recommendation. Results of statistical analyses indicated that when the alleged victim’s disclosures of the assault were complete on both occasions there were more guilty verdicts, higher ratings of the defendant’s guilt, and greater belief in the alleged victim than when there was a delay in full disclosure. On a practical level these findings are troubling given the tendency of child victims to make incomplete out-of-court disclosures. Future research should focus on manipulating the age of the alleged victim. Tables, appendix, notes, references
Main Term(s): Child victims
Index Term(s): Child victim interviews; Sexual assault victims; Witness credibility
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