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Justice for victims of sexual assault: court or conference?

Author(s)Daly, Kathleen and Sarah Curtis-Fawley
Title Justice for victims of sexual assault: court or conference?
Source Karen Heimer, and Candace Kruttschnitt (eds.) Gender and Crime: Patterns of Victimization and Offending (pp. 230-65). New York: New York University Press, 2006
Date 2006
Document type Book chapter
Coverage Australia
Summary This article discusses the role of restorative justice (RJ) in sexual assault cases. At present there are only two jurisdictions in the world, South Australia and New Zealand, which routinely use RJ in youth sexual assault cases. This article describes in detail two sexual assault cases that were diverted to conference. Both cases had young male offenders (17 at the time of the offence) and female victims (12 and 13) and both were finalised by a family conference in South Australia. The victims' experiences with the police and the conference process are documented, together with what they hoped would happen at the conference and what did occur. In addition the facilitators' thoughts are discussed, concerning their concerns in planning and running the conferences, the conference dynamics and any benefits for the victim. The potential benefits and problems of using RJ are examined and the authors conclude that on balance RJ may have much to offer a victim but the problems of safety, power imbalances and appearance of leniency need to be addressed. The crucial advantage for victims is that the offender has admitted his guilt and victims do not need to participate in the negative consequences of an adversarial process.
Keywords Sexual assault; criminal justice process; police; courts; fail victim; conference; intervention
Topic Sexual assault