Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers

Harper Wave. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780063002746. $27.99. LAW
Tuerkheimer (Pritzker Sch. of Law, Northwestern Univ.) paints an enlightening and deeply disturbing portrait of how bias affects the way society views the victims of sexual assault or abuse and the alleged perpetrators. She uses case studies (including Larry Nasser, R. Kelly, and Harvey Weinstein), firsthand accounts, and American criminal law to prove that factors like race, gender, sexual orientation, education level, financial status, and employment affect whether an accuser is believed and an alleged abuser is penalized. Tuerkheimer argues that, paradoxically, mass media is now saturated with examples of rape and abuse, while people who make allegations of assault are still held to unreasonable standards; for instance, cases of rape by a stranger are often given more credibility than the sexual assault cases that are most common, where the accuser knows the alleged perpetrator. Tuerkheimer says that credibility is itself a form of power that often adds to victims’ trauma when authorities dismiss, ignore, or outright deny their claims.
VERDICT With recently overturned sexual misconduct convictions like Bill Cosby’s in the news, this is a relevant and significant study that will leave readers reeling but also hopeful that this knowledge can be used to prevent assault and abuse.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing