William O’Donohue, Lorraine Benuto, Gwendolyn Carlson & Natalie Bennett
Often relied upon by investigators and prosecutors, child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) and rape trauma syndrome (RTS) are seen as means of explaining behavior of an alleged abuse (or rape) victim that would otherwise indicate no abuse or rape occurred.
Proponents of CSAAS claim that certain inconsistent behaviors will nonetheless indicate abuse occurred, including denying it, making absolutely unbelievable allegations and recanting previous allegations. Likewise, RTS advocates claim that otherwise inconsistent behaviors including putting up no resistance, giving one’s telephone number to the alleged assailant post encounter, not immediately reporting the rape and engaging in routine behavior immediately afterward - like shopping - will still demonstrate a rape occurred.
However, neither “syndrome” is supported by the kind of objective, empirical science required to meet any evidentiary standard; moreover, there is a plethora of properly performed scientific inquiries that support rejection of these claims. Unfortunately, some prosecutors, investigators, courts and attorneys continue to rely on the syndromes, sometimes with terrible results.
To help judges and attorneys better understand the serious problems with these purported syndromes, this Syndrome Evidence: CSAAS and RTS chapter provides detailed discussion from the foremost authorities, including the following particular topics:
The lack of any recognized research method in the development of CSAAS
Discussion of the serious criticisms of CSAAS and the science supporting them
The lack of empirical data to support RTS
Discussion of the criticisms of the methods used to create RTS
Discussion of the admissibility of expert testimony on CSAAS and RTS
How & why creator of CSAAS later qualified the import of the “syndrome”
Sample cross-examination questions for CSAAS
Discussion of the weight of authorities leaning toward post-sexual assault victims suffering acute stress disorder, PTSD and/or depression rather than RTS
In addition to comprehensive discussion of the subject matter, this chapter also provides a number of case vignettes that illustrate what it looks like when CSAAS and RTS are properly handled in courts and investigations.
Offering a thorough review of the literature in this field, the Syndrome Evidence: CSAAS and RTS chapter is an invaluable resource for lawyers, judges and experts navigating such cases.
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