Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 17 Issue 4 (October/December 1999), Pages 407-551

The effect of multiple childhood sexual assaults on mock‐jurors' perceptions of repressed memories (pages 483-493)

Abstract

The effect of multiple childhood sexual assaults on the believability of a repressed memory of the assault was assessed using mock jurors. Participants read a fictional civil trial summary about a child sexual assault case presented in one of three reporting conditions: (a) immediate condition—the alleged victim testified immediately after the assault(s); (b) repressed condition—the alleged victim reported the assault(s) 20 years later, after remembering it/them for the first time; or (c) no‐repressed condition—the alleged victim reported the assault(s) 20 years later, but the memory of the assault(s) had been present for those years. The number of assaults was either one or 30. The results showed that for all reporting conditions 30 alleged assaults led to relatively more decisions for the plaintiff than the defendant, and greater believability of the plaintiff. The increases in decisions rendered and believability were also generally true for the immediate condition compared to when there was a delay in reporting. The results are discussed in terms of mock jurors' perceptions of child sexual assault, both those reported immediately and those reported after many years. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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