Differential treatment how testimony is discussed in assault and sexual assault cases at the Court of Appeal of Québec

1. Abstract

Developments in the last decade have shed a new light on sexual crimes and raised the issue of police and justice response in the public consciousness. Much of the criticisms towards the justice system have focused on the testimony, which revictimizes the victim by forcing them to relive the events while having their credibility put in doubt. This suggests that sexual assault victims are treated very differently to victims of other crimes (Brody 2011). In this paper, we wish to substantiate, measure and qualify this claim in the context of Canadian criminal law through this question: is testimony being treated differently in sexual assault cases vs. in cases of assault which doesn't involve sexual activity? To address this question, we use topic models to identify discussions about testimony in court decisions from the Quebec Court of Appeal, and measure how they differ in sexual assault cases along various variables.

Louis Chartrand (lochartrand@gmail.com), University of Pittsburgh, Canada and Ulisce Desmarais-Grégoire , Desmarais Desvignes Crespo

Theme: Lux by Bootswatch.