The influence of victim intoxication and victim attire on police responses to sexual assault

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Abstract

Limited research exists on the impact of contextual factors such as victim intoxication and victim attire on police processing of a case of sexual assault. The effects of these variables were examined in a simulated sexual assault case. Participants were 125 detectives from the New South Wales Police Department. Officers read controverted witness statements and viewed photographs pertaining to an investigation of a report of date rape. Contrary to findings in earlier studies, complainant intoxication, 'provocative' dress, and gender of the officer had no influence on the likelihood of charging the alleged offender. Factors predictive of pressing charges were the perceived credibility of the complainant and culpability of the alleged offender. Credibility and guilt judgements were themselves infl uenced by the level of rape myth acceptance endorsed by the offi cers. Rape myth acceptance also exerted a number of other effects on case evaluations. Implications for future studies and education and training programmes for police on sexual assault were discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume8
Issue number1
Early online date08 Dec 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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