Perceptions of adult parricide in a case involving repressed sexual abuse

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We examined the effect of repressed child sexual abuse as a defense in a parricide case involving an adult defendant. Mock jurors read one of three criminal trial summaries involving the homicide of the defendant's father. The trial summaries differed with respect to the presence of abuse and repression of the abuse: 1) no abuse, 2) sexual abuse that was repressed for 30 years, and 3) sexual abuse that occurred 30 years earlier but was not repressed. Participants rendered a verdict (i.e., not guilty, manslaughter, or murder) and answered various rating questions about the trial (e.g., alleged victim credibility). Participants were less likely to convict the defendant of murder, compared to manslaughter, when the defendant repressed having been sexually abused as a child versus when he did not repress the sexual abuse. This effect was mediated by sympathy for the defendant and the defendant's ability to distinguish right from wrong. The results highlight the importance of studying different attributions jurors make in homicide cases when prior sexual abuse of the defendant is used as a defense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-38
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Applied Psychology


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