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Delayed Prosecution for Childhood Sexual Abuse$
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Penney Lewis

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282289

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282289.001.0001

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Delay in Complaint

Delay in Complaint

(p.93) 5 Delay in Complaint
Delayed Prosecution for Childhood Sexual Abuse

Penney Lewis

Oxford University Press

In most delayed CSA prosecutions, the complainant will have delayed in making her complaint, or bringing it to the attention of the authorities. There have been recent legislative and judicial modifications to the historical common law requirement for early or recent complaint. Three legal mechanisms regulating the jury's access to information about delayed complaints are considered: cross-examination of the complainant on the issue of delay; the admissibility of a late complaint for the prosecution; and judicial warnings indicating how, if at all, jurors should incorporate the fact of late complaint into their deliberations. The use of expert evidence to explain delay in complaint is also examined. Such expert evidence is ‘counterintuitive evidence’ designed to dispel myths, misconceptions, or misunderstandings in the minds of jurors which may adversely affect their evaluation of the complainant's evidence.

Keywords:   delayed complaint, recent complaint, judicial warnings, expert evidence, cross-examination, myths, counterintuitive evidence

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