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Child Sexual Assault

NCJ Number
P Gallagher; J Hickey; D Ash
Date Published
98 pages
This study examines child sexual assault cases finalized in the District Court of New South Wales (Australia) in 1994.
The study found that in absolute terms more prosecutions are occurring and more convictions are recorded for offenses of child sexual assault than was the case in 1982. This is due in part to the extensive law reform in this area in the last decade, particularly the evidentiary and procedural provisions that have made it easier for children to provide evidence; however, the difference in the number of incidents reported to police and those prosecuted suggests that the process remains a difficult and painful task for victims. The study also found that there was a lower guilty plea rate overall; 77 percent of proven offenders (half of all alleged offenders) pleaded guilty either before or at trial. Fewer guilty pleas have resulted in a lower conviction rate than was the case in 1982. The majority of offenders who offended against more than one victim were dealt with in one trial; however, of 43 offenses dealt with in multiple trials, only 6 had a guilty outcome. Although the most common proven offenses were indecent assault and sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years old, they accounted for only one-third of all proven offenses, reflecting the diversity of offenses with which an offender could be charged. Two-thirds of alleged offenders were convicted. As expected, most proven offenders were male, and the age profile was older than for the general offender population (median age of 41). Almost 75 percent of the victims were female; most female victims had been abused by family members or by those known to them. Data are also provided on the delay between commission and the reporting of the offense, the duration and pattern of abuse, and legal representation. Three appendixes summarize two decades of legislative changes to both child sexual assault offenses and to the rules of evidence pertaining to these offenses. 10 figures, 12 tables, and a 41- item bibliography


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