Filial Dependency and Recantation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 06-19

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Forthcoming

Posted: 29 Sep 2006

See all articles by Lindsay Malloy

Lindsay Malloy

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Jodi Quas

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Abstract

Controversy abounds regarding the process by which child sexual abuse (CSA) victims disclose their experiences, particularly the extent to which and reasons why some children, once having disclosed abuse, later recant their allegations. This study examined the prevalence and predictors of recantation among 2- to 17-year-old CSA victims. Method: Case files (N=257) were randomly selected from all substantiated cases resulting in a dependency court filing in a large urban county between 1999 and 2000. Recantation (i.e., denial of abuse post-disclosure) was scored across formal and informal interviews. Cases were also coded for characteristics of the child, family, and abuse. Results: A 23.1% recantation rate was observed. Multivariate analyses supported a filial dependency model of recantation, whereby abuse victims who were more vulnerable to familial adult influences (i.e., younger children, those abused by a parent figure, and who lacked support from the non-offending caregiver) were more likely to recant. An alternative hypothesis, that recantations resulted from potential inclusion of cases involving false allegations, was not supported. Conclusions: Results provide new insight into the process by which children reveal interpersonal trauma and have implications for debates concerning the credibility of CSA allegations and treatment in dependency samples.

Keywords: Recantation, Child Sexual Abuse, Disclosure

Suggested Citation

Malloy, Lindsay and Lyon, Thomas D. and Quas, Jodi, Filial Dependency and Recantation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations. USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 06-19; Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=933336

Lindsay Malloy (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-0142 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

Jodi Quas

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697

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