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June 23 , 2007

Seeking Justice in Child Sexual Abuse

Shifting Burdens and Sharing Responsibilities


St. Mary County is a small rural midwestern enclave with a unique approach to handling accusations of child sexual abuse. Hoping to spare children the trauma of lengthy court appearances and probing interrogations, St. Mary's professionals strive to obtain confessions from accused sex offenders rather than ask the victim to bear the burden of proof.

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Treating this county as a critical case study, scholars from a variety of fields come together to analyze this community's unique approach. They address relevant case law, innovative treatments for both victim and offender, and the social history of child sexual abuse as a national policy concern. They cover legal burdens and scientific methods, prosecutors and protocol, the interrogation of victims and suspects, the use of expert witnesses, defense strategies, and practice wisdom in videotaping. In addition, they examine the unfolding drama of a single legal case from incidence to conviction.

The result is a fascinating dialogue that confronts the unique complexities of child sexual abuse for readers on all sides of the issue. Introducing a model that makes enormous headway in the pursuit of justice, fairness, and trauma treatment, this interdisciplinary text is an indispensible tool for all communities seeking redress.

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