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NCJ Number: 151022 Find in a Library
Title: Discrediting Victims' Allegations of Sexual Assault: Prosecutorial Accounts of Case Rejections (From Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction, P 210-228, 1994, Patricia A and Peter Adler, eds. -- See NCJ-151012)
Author(s): L Frohmann
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Wadsworth Publishing Co
Belmont, CA 94002
Sale Source: Wadsworth Publishing Co
20 Davis Drive
Belmont, CA 94002
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Several sexual assault studies have found that victim credibility is important in police decisions to investigate and make arrests in sexual assault cases and that victim credibility influences prosecutorial handling of sexual assault cases; an alternative view examines victim credibility as a phenomenon constructed and maintained through interaction.
Abstract: To assess the kinds of accounts prosecutors offered in sexual assault cases to support their complaint filing decisions, data were obtained from an ethnographic field study of the prosecution of sexual assault crimes by deputy district attorneys that involved 17 months of observation and more than 300 case screenings. Two features of the court setting were studied in the context of prosecutorial decisions: (1) prosecutorial concern with maintaining a high conviction rate to promote an image of being the community's legal protector; and (2) prosecutorial and court procedures for processing sexual assault cases. Consideration was also given to prosecutorial accounts of case rejections based on the discrediting of victim sexual assault allegations. The use of official reports and records by prosecutors to detect discrepancies in sexual assault reporting and the development of typologies of rape-relevant behavior, postincident interaction, and victim demeanor are explored. The reliance of prosecutors on ulterior motives in sexual assault reporting is considered, as well as the prior criminal activity of victims. The author concludes that case filing represents a critical stage in the prosecutorial process and that a significant percentage of sexual assault cases are rejected at this stage. She also shows how prosecutors rely on assumptions about relationships, gender, and sexuality in filing sexual assault complaints. 28 references
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Case dismissal; Case processing; Court procedures; Decisionmaking; Female victims; Gender issues; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutorial screening; Rape; Witness credibility
Note: Reprinted from Social Problems, V 38, N 2 (May 1991)
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