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Pathways to Sexual Assault Case Attrition: Culture, Context, and Case Clearance

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 16 Issue: 8 Dated: 2021 Pages: 1061-1076
A. Pattavina; et al
Date Published
16 pages

Since sexual assault case attrition research has been consistent in documenting that sexual assault complaints fall out of the system at disturbing rates, this article describes a pathway to attrition where managerial concerns incentivize case processing outcomes that remove cases early in the system and scaffolds a decision-making context where rape myth adherence provides sustained rationalizations for closing cases.


Using data on sexual assault incidents reported to the police, we present a quantitative analysis that investigates such a pathway to attrition that considers how police and prosecutors work together at the pre-arrest stage and the extent to which this practice facilitates the use of exceptional clearance police classification to close sexual assault investigations. (Publisher Abstract)