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Decision Making in Sexual Assault Cases: Replication Research on Sexual Violence Case Attrition in the U.S.

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2019
242 pages
Findings and methodology are reported for a study that replicated in six jurisdictions across the country a study in Los Angeles County (California) of reasons for sexual violence (SV) case attrition (case not pursued to formal disposition) at the policing and prosecutorial stages.
In the six jurisdictions of the current study, a mixed methods approach was used to obtain quantitative and qualitative data needed to identify and interpret patterns in the processing of sexual assault cases. Researchers tracked police reports of rape and attempted rape cases and documented the flow of reports on these cases through each stage of processing. Case records were analyzed in detail in order to determine the dynamics of the characteristics of victims, offenders, and cases associated with discontinued processing. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with police, prosecutors, and victim service providers. Multivariate analyses predicting an arrest indicated that legal or evidentiary factors were significant predictors of an arrest in a case and that the effects of case characteristics were independent of jurisdiction type. A cooperative victim was the strongest predictor of arrest across all jurisdictions. Results from medium and large jurisdictions showed that issues related to victim credibility reduced the likelihood of arrest. Race was a significant predictor only for small sites with higher odds of arrest for incidents that involved Black victims. Extra-legal factors were significant in predicting arrest and were often related to issues in victim credibility. Indicators of victim resistance were predictive of arrest for all victim-offender types of relationships. Differences and similarities between the findings of this study and the Los Angeles County study are noted. 18 tables, 6 figures, 54 references, and appended methodological materials

Date Published: February 1, 2019