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Vulnerable witnesses and problems of portrayal: A consideration of videotaped police interviews in child rape cases

Aldridge, Michelle and Luchjenbroers, June 2008. Vulnerable witnesses and problems of portrayal: A consideration of videotaped police interviews in child rape cases. Journal of English Linguistics 36 (3) , pp. 266-284. 10.1177/0075424208321205

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Through an analysis of a videotaped police interview with a child witness in an alleged rape case, we use conceptual frames and narrative analysis to illustrate how perceptions of co-conspirator and guilt are naively cultivated by (1) the child's relative inability to appropriately structure narrative responses to the police officer's questions and (2) the police officer's lack of attention to the cultural associations embedded in questions asked that draw on the rape myth. These observations illustrate that the videotaped police interview should not serve as both (1) police-produced information for the Crown prosecutors and (2) the witness's evidence-in-chief to be shown in court. Our analysis suggests that a great deal of damage can be done in an interview with a vulnerable witness due to the absence, criticized in earlier work, of lawyer direction, and that a child's testimony is weakened by the jury watching this video as the witness's evidence-in-chief.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords: child witnesses; frames; narrative; rape; questioning
Additional Information: Special Issue: The Language of vulnerable witnesses across legal contexts
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0075-4242
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:56

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