Our trial system, because it is adversarial, is hard on crime victims generally and particularly brutal for people who file allegations of sexual abuse. Sex crime cases often boil down to who jurors believe, the accuser or the defendant. Since the defendant is presumed innocent, the accuser has the burden of proving guilt. In this system even the slightest bit of information that might cast doubt on the accuser's reputation, motive, or credibility can destroy a prosecutor's case. All a jury needs to render a not guilty verdict is reasonable doubt.
Victims of sexual crimes, unlike people who have been robbed or had their cars stolen, are often embarrassed by what happened to them. This is particularly true in pedophile crimes where, under the best of circumstances, it is difficult for victims to come forward. The added potential of having one's personal life opened up like a book makes going public even more difficult. It is therefore not surprising that sex crimes are significantly underreported. As a result, tens of thousands of serial sex offenders live among us, unpunished for their horrible crimes.
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