Simulated judicial decision-making for African and European American adolescents with illegal sexual behavior: The impact of medical data and victim race/ethnicity

Rebecca L. Fix, John Michael Falligant, Apryl A. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The perceived importance of victim and defendant race/ethnicity and medical evidence in child sexual abuse cases has been recognized separately in the literature. However, few studies have considered these factors simultaneously. Within a sample of 880 college students, an interaction effect was tested between the presence of medical evidence and the race/ethnicity of a juvenile defendant and victim using child sexual abuse case vignettes. The main effects of medical evidence and the race of the defendant were observed. Medical evidence and race of victim influenced victim believability such that medical evidence was more impactful for cases with African American victims. Further, there were interactions between the race of the defendant and the race of the victim in adult versus juvenile court decisions, sex offender registration and notification requirements, and length of sex offender registration and notification. Interracial sexual offending was associated with substantially higher punishment than intraracial sexual offending. Accordingly, several important implications for court-level decision-making processes are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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