Impeaching Rape Victims in Criminal Court: Does Concurrent Civil Action Hurt Justice?

Jonathan M. Golding, Kellie R. Lynch, Nesa E. Wasarhaley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the impact of impeaching a rape victim with evidence of a simultaneous civil suit during a criminal trial. In three experiments, male and female undergraduates (Experiment 1) and community members (Experiments 2 and 3) read a rape trial summary in which the victim accused the defendant of raping her in a hotel. In the impeachment condition, the Defense mentioned that the victim simultaneously sued either the hotel (Experiments 1, 2, 3) or the alleged perpetrator (Experiment 3) for US$1 million. In the control condition, the Defense did not mention a civil suit. In all experiments, mock jurors were more likely to render not guilty verdicts and had higher pro-defendant ratings (e.g., defendant credibility) when the Defense impeached the victim than when the Defense did not impeach her. In addition, victim credibility (Experiments 1, 2, 3) and victim greed (Experiment 3) mediated the impact of impeachment on verdict. Results are discussed in terms of the prejudice rape victims may face in criminal court when they also seek justice in civil court.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3129-3149
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • impeachment
  • mock jurors
  • rape victims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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