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Selected Psycho-Socio-Legal Aspects of Rape

NCJ Number
C M Lesko
Date Published
144 pages
This study describes and explains selected steps taken by the various law enforcement agencies in rape investigations and identifies critical issues in the determination of criminal guilt.
Individual chapters focus on common law and statutory definitions of rape; the investigative process; accusations of rape, corroboration requirements in charges of rape; the reputation and prior unchastity of the victim as trial material; cautionary instruction on victim credibility; and on judges, juries, and their penalties. Information was documented from recognized professional legal, medical, and psychological publications; personal interviews with persons professionally involved in the areas under discussion; and from personal observations. Difficult areas for victims of rape were found to lie in police interviews, hospital examinations, and in laws designed to protect men from false accusations of rape. The court proceedings most traumatic for victims were the requirement for independent corroboration of their testimonies; the requirement that they resist attacks physically to the utmost; their forced submission to pretrial psychiatric examinations; the introduction of victims' prior sexual conduct into evidence; the instruction to the jury that victims' testimony be viewed with caution; and the biases of the jury in a rape deliberation, along with harsh penalties for rape which make juries reluctant to convict. Recommendations include easing the rape victim's existing burden throughout the legal process, ascertaining how many women make false accusations of rape, and discovering any common underlying personality or motivational dynamics in the psychology of women who are prone to cry rape unfairly. Footnotes, over 100 references and an appendix containing reasons for unfounding cases are included.


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