Past Press Releases

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2017

Megan Cassidy, Communications Associate
Wellesley Centers for Women 
781.283.2483 \

Research Collaboration on the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse.

Wellesley College research scientists to discuss challenges and outcomes of recent study.

WELLESLEY, Mass. – There is a growing body of research examining the criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse. However there are significant methodological and ethical challenges in the conduct of this research. One key component of success is assuring that the efforts involve close collaborations between researchers and practitioners. Stephanie Block, Ph.D. and Linda M. Williams, Ph.D. will discuss their experience with this approach during the presentation, “Research Collaboration on the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Outcomes,” on Thursday, May 11, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., at Cheever House, 828 Washington St, Wellesley. This program will close the spring Lunchtime Seminar Series hosted by the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) at Wellesley College.

“Collaborations are critical in this field. They are necessary in order to frame research questions, acquire access to confidential case records and trial evidence, understand the prosecutorial decision making and outcomes, and reliably code, analyze, and interpret the data so it is useful to the field,” said Williams. During this presentation, Williams and Block will address how they approach such obstacles and discuss the findings of their collaborative research.

“Our research, funded by the National Institute of Justice, takes a child development and justice system approach to understand prosecution as well as the obstacles that lead many cases to drop out of the system, what we refer to as high attrition rates, in 500 child sexual assault cases from four counties in one state,” said Block. The design of Williams’s and Block’s case study captures many different examples of prosecutorial response to child sexual abuse in a real-world context.

“We identified concerns with victim competency, credibility, cooperation, and evidentiary issues. Our findings suggest many barriers to prosecution,” said Block about the study. During the presentation, they will discuss the methodological and ethical challenges of this type of research and they will review their collaborative approach that aimed to make recommendations designed to change outcomes for children.

Stephanie Block, Ph.D. is assistant professor at UMass Lowell in the psychology department and a collaborator with the Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research (JGBVR) Initiative at WCW. Linda M. Williams, Ph.D. is a senior research scientist and co-director of the JGBVR Initiative.

The Lunchtime Seminar Series at WCW is free and open to the public. Most programs are held Thursdays, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. at the Centers’ Cheever House location (828 Washington St, Wellesley), and parking is available in the on-site lot. Guests are invited to bring their lunches, and WCW will provide tea and coffee. For accessibility questions, contact Disability Services at Wellesley College at or call 781.283.2500 The Lunchtime Seminar Series schedule is subject to change. To confirm program lineup, call 781.283.2500 or visit

The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is the largest academic, women-and gender-focused, social-change-driven, research-and-action institute in the United States, located at Wellesley College. Scholars at WCW advance gender equality, social justice, and human wellbeing through high-quality research, theory, and action programs. Areas of work include: Education, Economic Security, Mental Health, Youth and Adolescent Development, and Gender-Based Violence.




For Journalists

Media representatives seeking to speak with a Wellesley Centers for Women researcher or program staff member should contact the communications department to facilitate interviews or appropriate referrals:

  • 781.283.2483


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