Delayed Prosecutions of Historic Child Sexual Abuse: Analyses of 2064 Canadian Criminal Complaints

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Abstract

Recently, in many English-speaking countries, legal principles that had the effect of barring delayed criminal prosecutions have been abrogated. In these jurisdictions, criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse that is alleged to have occurred in the distant past (historic child sexual abuse or HCSA) are a growing legal challenge. These cases raise myriad issues relevant to research and the development of public policy that would benefit from a considered exchange of ideas that is informed by a clear understanding of the phenomenon. Based on 2064 judicial decisions of Canadian criminal complaints of HCSA we describe the trial, the complainant, the accused, and the offence. In the context of these legal cases, we raise some of the germane issues as well as suggestions for future research and discussion that we believe are particularly current and pressing.

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