Prosecutors' Perspectives on Clarifying Sexual Acts in Child Abuse Interviews

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Burrows, Kimberlee S
Powell, Martine B
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2015
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For the successful prosecution of child sexual abuse offences, investigative interviews of alleged victims must establish beyond reasonable doubt the nature of each sexual offence alleged. One limitation of interviews from an evidential (prosecution) perspective is that they often include unnecessary questions about sexual acts, which risk damaging the witness's credibility in the eyes of the jury. The aim of this study, using focus group methodology, was to elicit further guidance from prosecutors about when, and how, interviewers should clarify details about sexual acts. Overall, the prosecutors advised that three factors need to be considered before asking clarifying questions: whether the detail already provided by the witness would be clear to juries; the developmental age of the child; and the strength of the evidence available to support the allegations. These findings and their implications for investigative interviewers are discussed.

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Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
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22
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6
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Cognitive and computational psychology
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Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Criminology & Penology
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Burrows, KS; Powell, MB, Prosecutors' Perspectives on Clarifying Sexual Acts in Child Abuse Interviews, Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 2015, 22 (6), pp. 903-911
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