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Brewer, K. D., Rowe, D. M., & Brewer, D. D. (1997). Factors related to the prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 6, 91-111.

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Abstract: This study explored how various factors regarding the victim, offender, abuse situation, and case evidence were related to prosecution decisions in child sexual abuse cases. Data were collected from records of 200 closed child sexual abuse cases served at a southwestern United States agency during 1989-1990. Results indicated that cases involving recently reported abuse and offenders who were charged with abusing multiple child victims were significantly more likely to be prosecuted than cases involving less recently reported abuse and offenders charged with abusing only one victim, respectively. In terms of the victim -offender relationship, prosecution was most likely for cases with offenders who were strangers, next most likely for biological nuclear family members. Also, cases with medical evidence of abuse were more likely to be prosecuted than cases without medical evidence only when serious abuse was involved. In addition, prosecution was significantly less likely for cases with younger victims than for cases with older victims. Seriousness of abuse, the presence of medical evidence, and recency of abuse did not account for this victim age-prosecution status relationship. Furthermore, no cases involving possible custody disputes were prosecuted. Implications are discussed concerning the need for focused and integrated efforts in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.

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