This is the first Canadian study to focus directly on whether factors commonly identified as reflecting the seriousness of a sexual assault are noted by judges, and in turn, related to the severity of the sentences they impose. We examined adolescent and adult female sexual assault cases heard in Ontario between 1993 and 2001. Two hundred twenty-one cases were identified using Quicklaw, Canada's most comprehensive on-line legal information system, with data extracted onto a coding instrument. In 201 (91%) of these cases, a perpetrator had been sentenced to prison or jail. Judges reported that in a substantial proportion of these women they had been penetrated (67%), forced (49%), coerced (50%), physically injured (33%), and psychologically harmed (65%). However, only two of the six offence seriousness factors examined were associated with a prison versus jail sentence: the occurrence of vaginal and/or anal penetration and the threat or use of a weapon(s).
RepublishedIn: Med Law. 2008 Jun;27(2):477-9818693493