Evidence Summarized in Attorneys’ Closing Arguments Predicts Acquittals in Criminal Trials of Child Sexual Abuse

Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence summarized in attorney's closing arguments of criminal child sexual abuse cases (N = 189) was coded to predict acquittal rates. Ten variables were significant bivariate predictors; five variables significant at p <.01 were entered into a multivariate model. Cases were likely to result in an acquittal when the defendant was not charged with force, the child maintained contact with the defendant after the abuse occurred, or the defense presented a hearsay witness regarding the victim’s statements, a witness regarding the victim’s character, or a witness regarding another witnesses’ character (usually the mother). The findings suggest that jurors might believe that child molestation is akin to a stereotype of violent rape and that they may be swayed by defense challenges to the victim’s credibility and the credibility of those close to the victim.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalChild Maltreatment
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 13 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • case evidence
  • child sexual abuse
  • closing arguments
  • predicting acquittals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence Summarized in Attorneys’ Closing Arguments Predicts Acquittals in Criminal Trials of Child Sexual Abuse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this