When superior courts reach different conclusions in the same child sexual abuse cases – is there a lesson to be learned?
2008 (English)In: Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, ISSN 1544-4759, E-ISSN 1544-4767, Vol. 5, no 3, 171-187 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The objective of this study was to analyse Swedish child sexual abuse cases from 1989 to 2004 characterised by the following: (1) conviction in first trial in a court of appeal; (2) the Supreme Court later accepted a petition for a new trial; and (3) acquittal in second trial in the same court of appeal (with new judges). The study was conducted to determine what criteria were used for evaluating psychological child-related information and how they were applied. Eight argument themes were identified in the reasoning of the courts: (1) ability to perceive, remember, and communicate about experiences in a reliable way; (2) influence before first forensic interview; (3) influence during forensic interview/s; (4) motives for disclosing/retracting; (5) statement characteristics; (6) disclosure process; (7) behaviour and/or emotions related to investigations/interviews; and (8) psychological symptoms. The arguing of the courts was classified as belonging to one of three categories for each argument theme: (1) supporting/challenging the allegations; (2) opposing a conceivably supportive/challenging argument; and (3) indifferent. In six of the nine cases, arguments belonging to the same theme were presented in both court proceedings. Diametrically opposite conclusions were reached in 15 of 20 of these examples and same conclusion in one case. The evaluation method/s seemingly underlying the child psychological arguments of the courts may have a low reliability.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 5, no 3, 171-187 p.
child sexual abuse, adjudication, law and order, validation, allegations
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-112779DOI: 10.1002/jip.84OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-112779DiVA: diva2:287886