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The Impact of Being Wrongly Accused of Abuse in Occupations of Trust: Victims’ Voices Carolyn Hoyle, Naomi-Ellen Speechley, and Ros Burnett University of Oxford Centre for Criminology
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2 The Authors Professor Carolyn Hoyle has expertise on victims in criminal justice and on various aspects of miscarriages of justice. She has recently completed an in-depth study of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (Hoyle and Sato, forthcoming). Naomi-Ellen Speechley was a Research Assistant for Carolyn Hoyle’s study of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and Lead Researcher for the present project. She was formerly Manager of the Innocence Project at the University of Leeds, and is embarking on a doctorate focused on miscarriages of justice (Speechley, 2013; McCartney and Speechley, 2015). Dr Ros Burnett, formerly a Reader in Criminology, is now a Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. She has recently edited a book on wrongful allegations of abuse (Burnett, in press). She is a voluntary research consultant to FACT. Acknowledgements and Declaration The research team is grateful to the research participants for their time and effort in contributing their voices. While the impetus to carry out the study came from a small bequest of £5000 towards research on false allegations, and FACT 1 facilitated our access to ‘legally innocent’ participants, the focus, methodology, writing and production of the report and all other aspects of the project have been executed independently from FACT by a team at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, generously funded by the University of Oxford John Fell Fund and the Law Faculty Research Support Fund. The research was approved by the Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee. We are grateful to David Rose for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this report. 1 FACT is a voluntary organisation established in 1999 to support people wrongly accused of abuse in occupational contexts. Website:
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3 1: INTRODUCTION Accusations of serious criminality, especially alleged sexual wrongdoing, are often their own convictions in the high court of public opinion because the stigma is so severe, and because definitively proving innocence in a disputed sex case often is impossible. — (COTWA homepage) 2 History is full of innocent men and women who have been sent to jail for crimes they did not commit. I am not too naïve to realise that it could easily have happened to me. Before my trial began, relatively few people could understand how a former care worker could possibly be facing more than 20 counts of physical and sexual abuse from four separate accusers, and claim he was innocent and that all the allegations were false. By the time the trial had collapsed, practically everyone knew the explanation.
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