CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, October 30, 2020

Lyon et al. on Expert Testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Denial

Thomas D. LyonShanna Williams and Stacia Stolzenberg (University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law and Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice) have posted Understanding Expert Testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Denial After New Jersey v. J.L.G.: Ground Truth, Disclosure Suspicion Bias, and Disclosure Substantiation Bias (Forthcoming, Behavioral Sciences & the Law) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The New Jersey Supreme Court held in New Jersey v. J.L.G. (2018) that experts can no longer explain to juries why sexually abused children might deny abuse. The Court was influenced by expert testimony that “methodologically superior” studies find lower rates of denial. Examining the studies in detail, we argue that the expert testimony was flawed due to three problems with using child disclosure studies to estimate the likelihood that abused children are reluctant to disclose abuse: the ground truth problem, disclosure suspicion bias, and disclosure substantiation bias. Research identifying groups of children whose abuse can be proven without reliance on disclosure reveals that denial of sexual abuse is common among abused children.

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