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Suspect Confession of Child Sexual Abuse to Investigators

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 15 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2010 Pages: 161-170
Tonya Lippert; Theodore P. Cross; Lisa Jones; Wendy Walsh
Date Published
May 2010
10 pages
This study examined confessions of child sexual abuse and predictors of confession focusing on true confessions.
Increasing the number of suspects who give true confessions of sexual abuse serves justice and reduces the burden of the criminal justice process on child victims. With data from four communities, this study examined confession rates and predictors of confession of child sexual abuse over the course of criminal investigations (final N = 282). Overall, 30 percent of suspects confessed partially or fully to the crime. This rate was consistent across the communities and is very similar to the rates of suspect confession of child sexual abuse found by previous research, although lower than that from a study focused on a community with a vigorous practice of polygraph testing. In a multivariate analysis, confession was more likely when suspects were younger and when more evidence of abuse was available, particularly child disclosure and corroborative evidence. These results suggest the difficulty of obtaining confession but also the value of methods that facilitate child disclosure and seek corroborative evidence, for increasing the odds of confession. Tables and references (Published Abstract)