This study examined the progress and disposition of child sexual abuse cases referred for prosecution in four urban jurisdictions. Most cases were accepted for prosecution. The vast majority of cases carried forward for prosecution resulted in guilty pleas. Only 9% of the total sample went to trial. A majority of the small number that went to trial were convicted. Over 3 4 of those convicted were incarcerated. The rate at which cases were carried forward for prosecution and convicted was comparable to that of a national sample of felony arrests overall, but child sexual abuse cases were more likely to go to trial (p < .005) and received more severe sentences (p < .005). Our results are strikingly consistent with those from previous studies of prosecution of child sexual abuse. A new understanding of prosecution of child sexual abuse is recommended that takes into account the large proportion of cases that do not go to trial.
- Child sexual abuse
- Criminal justice
- Field-based research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health