This study retrospectively examined 500 child sexual abuse reports to prosecutor's offices, analyzing case progress and predictors of attrition, including details about alleged perpetrator(s), victim(s), their families, and other case characteristics. The researchers found that less than one in five cases proceeded to prosecution.
The researchers describe all outcomes of the reports in the sample and differentiate prosecutors' decisions to (a) intake/close, (b) investigate/close, or (c) prosecute. Because it is important to understand which variables are associated with progress to each stage, they examined unique predictors of the decisions to investigate and to prosecute. Caregiver support and perpetrator age were significant predictors across all outcome variables, while other factors were barriers only to the decision to prosecute.
These results highlight the complexities of case characteristics that are important at different stages of prosecutorial decision-making and can inform future interventions.
This study was supported by Award No. 2014-MU-MU-0001 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice to the University of Massachusetts Lowell.