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Discrediting Victims' Allegations of Sexual Assault: Prosecutorial Accounts of Case Rejections

Lisa Frohmann
Social Problems
Vol. 38, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 213-226
DOI: 10.2307/800530
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800530
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Discrediting Victims' Allegations of Sexual Assault: Prosecutorial Accounts of Case Rejections
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Abstract

Complaint filing is a critical stage in the prosecution of a case, for here prosecutors decide which cases will go on for adjudication by the courts. A significant percentage of sexual assault cases never get beyond this stage in the criminal justice process. This paper examines prosecutorial accounts for sexual assault case rejection. A central feature of these accounts is discrediting the victim's rape allegation with the techniques of finding discrepancies in the victim's story and assuming ulterior motives for reporting the assault. The resources that prosecutors use to develop these techniques are official reports and records, typifications of rape-relevant behavior, and knowledge of the victim's personal life and criminal connections. Prosecutors' accounts reveal the indigenous logic of prosecutors' decisions to reject cases and the organizational structure in which these decisions are situated.

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