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Child Sexual Assault: The Court Response II

NCJ Number
A Goodwin
Date Published
155 pages
This second of two studies by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research on the court response to cases of alleged child sexual assault examines the processing and outcomes of all indictable cases of sexual assault against persons under 18 years old finalized in the New South Wales District and Supreme Courts in 1982.
This is the first of a two-part study designed to examine the impact of 1985 legislation intended to facilitate the prosecution of child molesters. The results of this first part of the study (pre-legislation case processing) confirm earlier research in showing the high conviction rate in cases of child sexual assault. Nearly 80 percent of cases involve a guilty plea, either at the committal stage or at some point prior to trial. Defendants are acquitted of only about 13 percent of the charges laid against them. In the vast majority of cases, defendants are convicted of the original charges laid. In 41 percent of the trials, the complainant is called to give evidence. In about half of the trials, this evidence is given in open court. Evidence in the remaining cases is given in camera. The majority of offenders are given noncustodial sanctions. The median custodial sentence is over 4 years. 47 tables, 12-item bibliography.