Understanding expert testimony on child sexual abuse denial after New Jersey v. J.L.G. Ground truth, disclosure suspicion bias, and disclosure substantiation bias

Thomas D. Lyon, Shanna Williams, Stacia N. Stolzenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The New Jersey Supreme Court held in New Jersey v. J.L.G. (2018) that experts can no longer explain to juries why sexually abused children might deny abuse. The court was influenced by expert testimony that “methodologically superior” studies find lower rates of denial. Examining the studies in detail, we argue that the expert testimony was flawed due to three problems with using child disclosure studies to estimate the likelihood that abused children are reluctant to disclose abuse: the ground truth problem, disclosure suspicion bias, and disclosure substantiation bias. Research identifying groups of children whose abuse can be proven without reliance on disclosure reveals that denial of sexual abuse is common among abused children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-647
Number of pages18
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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