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Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse$
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Ros Burnett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723301

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723301.001.0001

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Reducing Harm Resulting from False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

Reducing Harm Resulting from False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

The Importance of Corroboration

(p.227) 17 Reducing Harm Resulting from False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse
Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse

Steve Herman

Oxford University Press

In many prosecutions for child sexual abuse (CSA), the only evidence is the testimony of the alleged victim. Prosecutions of uncorroborated CSA allegations have sometimes led to the wrongful conviction of innocent day care workers and parents. Before the 1980s, corroboration was commonly required before CSA cases could be prosecuted. Changes in law and custom mean that corroboration is now no longer required in most jurisdictions. Many have lowered the evidentiary bar even further, making specific exceptions to statutes of limitations for alleged CSA cases. This chapter clarifies and critiques some dubious assumptions underpinning widespread acceptance of these lowered thresholds and the substantiation of allegations in child protection contexts, and contends an unacceptable risk of harm to the wrongfully accused and to non-abused children. It argues for (a) reinstatement of the corroboration requirements and (b) prioritization of a search for corroboration in cases of suspected CSA.

Keywords:   corroboration, evidentiary thresholds, medical professionals, medical paraprofessionals, MHPs, child sexual abuse, false reports, true cases, false positive(s), false negative(s)

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