Robert Gentel wrote:
Not just after the fact, but significantly after the fact. If we don't think the child has ability to give informed consent then they can't give informed assessment of damage. It makes it tough.
As to the risk, I agree with that but I don't think we tend to send drunk drivers away for years either. I wonder what the sentencing trends tend to be for this kind of case and what a typical sentence would be. No matter what they are the sentencing guidelines must be tough to codify and interpret in these cases.
Actually, don't know about the US, but trials can occur up to three years or even more after an offence is allegedly committed here.
What this can mean for child victims (other than that they have forgotten the kind of details demanded and are shockingly re-traumatised) is that they may have had a significant amount of therapy, and thus people like me, who have to write victim impact reports, may have a very deep knowledge of the child and the child's situation and be able to make guarded but reasonable guesstimate of likely outcomes, based on a good understanding of the child, the system supporting or failing to support said child etc.
Of course, the best one can do about long term effect is, indeed, just a reasonable guesstimate, and it is all thrown up in the air in adolescence anyway.
My impression is that sentences for child sexual abuse are pretty short, unless there are multiple offences or the abuse is violent, but here is s snapshot of sentencing for "maintaining a sexual relationship with a child under 16" which has some info on lengths of sentence. I assume the class of offence is one where the sexual contact has continued over time, not a one-off.
If there is a conviction.
Child evidence has great difficulty in being considered reliable here, as opposed to adult evidence.
At present here we appear to be in the odd position that adults who bring charges about abuse that happened to them years ago (and memory research suggests that the longer ago something happened the less reliable our memories are), if they get past all the hurdles of the Crown testing the case before going to trial, are getting much more convictions than kids who were expertly interviewed a short time after an offence. So..juries appear to believe people's memories from ages ago when they WERE a kid more than they believe the fresh memory of a kid.