The Impact of Defendant Gender and Relationship to Victim on Juror Decisions in a Child Sexual Abuse Case


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Monica L. McCoy, Converse College, Department of Psychology, 580 E. Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29302. E-mail:


We examined the impact of defendant gender and relationship to victim on verdict decisions and ratings of witness believability in a case of alleged child sexual assault. Mock jurors (N = 256) read 1 of 4 extensive case summaries. The cases varied the gender of the defendant and his or her relationship to the child (parent or stranger). Data revealed that participants were significantly more likely to find male defendants (especially the father) guilty than female defendants. Female jurors rated the victim as more believable and the defendant as less believable than did male jurors. All mock jurors rated the victim as more believable if the defendant was male, and they saw the female defendants as more believable than the male defendants.