Charges for criminal sexual conduct cases, more commonly called sex crimes or sexual assault, are often based only on the memories of the complaining witness. This is especially true for sexual assault that allegedly took place when the adult victim was a child. In these sex crimes cases there is no physical evidence, and the guilt of the accused rests entirely on the veracity of the witness’s statements and testimony. The problem is that the allegations of criminal sexual conduct can be based on totally false memories.
A new article written by an international team of researchers suggests that false memories can be reversed. According to the article, false memories cause many problems, not the least of which is false criminal allegations. The existence of false memories has been shown by many prior studies, and the contribution of this new study is that with the right kind of interviewing false memories can be supplanted by true memories.
To understand how this would all play out in a Michigan sex crimes case, the investigation of a sex crime usually begins with a report made to a police department. The initial report will inevitably be based on a recollection of past events, in this case some kind of sexual trauma or abuse. The case might then be assigned to a detective, who is likely to seek a second interview of the complaining witness, a/k/a victim. Depending on the age of the complaining witness, a forensic interview may follow.