Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

October 2001


Published in Child Abuse & Neglect 25 (2001), pp. 1415-1426. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. Used by permission.


Objective: The purpose was to explore the effects of victim/complainant and perpetrator/defendant gender on the impact of recovered memory testimony in criminal sexual abuse trials.
Method: A jury simulation methodology was used. Two hundred forty-six participants read a summary of a sexual abuse trial in which the following three variables were manipulated: the complainant's gender, the defendant's gender, and whether the complainant's memory of the alleged abuse had been "recovered" or remembered all along. Participants reached a verdict and rated the culpability and credibility of the parties.
Results: Compared to a case where the memory of the abuse had always been remembered, recovered memory testimony led to lower perceptions of the defendant's culpability and higher perceptions of the defendant's credibility. In addition, the complainant with recovered memory was viewed as less credible and less likely to be telling the truth. These effects of testimony type (i.e., recovered vs. remembered) were qualified by an interaction with complainant and defendant gender, such that testimony type exerted an effect in cases of alleged heterosexual but not homosexual abuse.
Conclusion: The results suggest that mock jurors' judgments in sexual abuse cases reflect their stereotypes about sexual abuse and expectations regarding the relative likelihood of repression in various circumstances.