The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases

The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases

The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases

The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases

Synopsis

The Language of Sexual Misconduct Casesanalyzes the many ways in which language plays a crucial role in sexual misconduct cases. Roger W. Shuy describes eleven court cases for which he served as an expert witness or consultant, and explains the issues at stake in each case for both lawyers and linguists. The book focuses on aspects of sexual misconduct that have not previously received the attention they deserve, such as: the language evidence of sexual misconduct in the workplace; cases of adult-to-child sexual misconduct with the family; and adult-adult sexual misconduct cases. Shuy explores the often-used linguistic analytical tools that are available to both the prosecution and the defense, including speech events, schemas, conversational strategies, and the resolution of strategic ambiguity. His work stresses the advantage of examining the larger contexts before making conclusions about the smaller linguistic units that are often called 'smoking guns.'

The Language of Sexual Misconduct Caseswill appeal to students and scholars of applied linguistics and forensic linguistics, and to lawyers working on sexual misconduct cases.

Excerpt

Few crimes are more disturbing than sexual misconduct, and most people find such cases even more disturbing when it is a child that has been molested. Therefore it is with considerable caution and discomfort that I write this book. I’m usually disquieted when a defense lawyer calls me for assistance in such cases, for I know that the evidence will be especially unpleasant and wrenching. It’s usually the defense lawyer who calls me, because prosecutors, who have never asked for my help in sexual misconduct cases, seem to be confident that their intelligence gathering and analysis will lead to a certain conviction. It makes no difference which side asks for my help, however, because analysis of the language evidence would be exactly the same no matter who asks for it. Since more and more charges of sexual misconduct are being brought to trial, this area of potential linguistic analysis seems to be an important one to address.

Of course, this book is not the first to deal with sexual misconduct, at least as the term is broadly understood. Much has been written about language in the context of child sexual abuse as well as the police interviewing and courtroom language that is used as sexual abuse cases are tried. For example, Janet Cotterill’s collection, The Language of Sexual Crime (2007), is an important resource for those who are interested in the way language is used in rape trials. For example, Susan Berk-Seligson’s chapter in that . . .

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