The Criminal Justice System's Response to Sexual Violence

Cassia Spohn, Katharine Tellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The legal reforms of the 1960s and 1970s notwithstanding, sexual assault is a crime characterized by underreporting and case attrition. In this article, the authors synthesize research examining the criminal justice system's response to sexual assault. The authors begin by examining research on the victim's decision to report the crime to the police. This is followed by a discussion of the findings of sexual assault case processing research, with a focus on the criminal justice system's response to aggravated and simple rape and to intimate partner sexual violence. The authors end the article with a discussion of questions that research has yet to adequately answer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-192
Number of pages24
JournalViolence Against Women
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • charging
  • sexual assault case outcomes
  • unfounding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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