Understanding Victim Behavior and Reactions to Sexual Violence through Expert Testimony

Webinar Recording

Jennifer Long, Director, AEquitas
Joyce Lukima, Vice President of Services, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Public perceptions of how victims should respond to physical and emotional trauma often conflicts with the way victims actually behave and these misconceptions can severely affect the fact finders’ assessment of victim credibility and ultimate case outcome. Experienced prosecutors and other allied professionals familiar with victim behavior understand that victims have individual responses to trauma that are often counterintuitive to public expectations, but may be unable or unsure of how to explain this to the jury. Introducing expert testimony to explain victim behavior is a way to dispel myths and assist the jury to make an informed decision based on the evidence.

This webinar discusses common victim behaviors and sexual assault dynamics and their impact on fact finders’ assessments of victim credibility and reviews the relevant law permitting the introduction of expert testimony to explain victim behaviors in sexual assault cases. Participants are guided through the process of deciding whether to introduce expert testimony and how to summarize the most effective use expert witnesses to educate judges and juries about common victim behaviors. In addition, this presentation identifies ways to work with experts to prepare a case for trial even where testimony will not be introduced. Participants will be encouraged, through the use of hypothetical case problems, to draw on their own experience and re-examine current attitudes and practices by employing active case evaluation and preparation.

Allied justice system professionals including but not limited to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, community-based service providers, medical and mental health practitioners, probation and parole officers, and judges are encouraged to view the recording.

CLE Credits
This webinar recording should qualify prosecutors for one and one-half (1.5) hours of continuing legal education credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.

Click here to view the recording of the May 17, 2013 webinar.

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