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Police Responses to Sexual Assault Complaints: The Role of Perpetrator/Complainant Intoxication

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Law and Human Behavior

Abstract

This study explored the impact of victim and perpetrator alcohol consumption on police officers' evaluations of an alleged sexual assault and their reported likelihood of charging the perpetrator. Two hundred and twelve police officers were presented with a vignette depicting an acquaintance rape in which the beverage consumption (beer, cola) of both the victim and perpetrator was systematically varied. Results indicated that the officers' perceptions of the complainant's intoxication level, as well as the gender of the officer, influenced officers' evaluations of the alleged sexual assault. The more intoxicated the complainant was perceived to be, the more negatively she was viewed. Female police officers evaluated the victim more favorably than male officers. The only factors related to the officers' likelihood of charging the perpetrator, however, involved their assessment of the complainant's credibility and their perception of the likelihood that the perpetrator would be found guilty in a court of law.

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Schuller, R.A., Stewart, A. Police Responses to Sexual Assault Complaints: The Role of Perpetrator/Complainant Intoxication. Law Hum Behav 24, 535–551 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005519028528

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