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166 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1 (2017-2018)
Incredible Women: Sexual Violence and the Credibility Discount

handle is hein.journals/pnlr166 and id is 5 raw text is: UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA
LAW REVIEW
Founded 1852
Formerly
AMERICAN LAW REGISTER
© 2017 University of Pennsylvania Law Review
VOL. 166                       DECEMBER 2017                             NO. 1
ARTICLE
INCREDIBLE WOMEN: SEXUAL VIOLENCE
AND THE CREDIBILITY DISCOUNT
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMERt
Credibility is central to the legal treatment of sexual violence, as epitomized by
the iconic he said/she said contest. Over time, the resolution of competing factual
accounts has evidenced a deeply skeptical orientation toward rape accusers. This
incredulous stance remains firmly lodged, having migrated from formal legal rules to
informal practices, with much the same result-an enduring system of disbelief
Introducing the concept of credibility discounting helps to explain the dominant
feature of our legal response to rape. Although false reports of rape are uncommon,
t Class of 1940 Research Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
J.D., Yale Law School; A.B., Harvard College. My thanks to Ronald Allen, Miranda Fricker, Terry
Fromson, Andrew Gold, Emily Kadens, Sherry Kolb, Andrew Koppelman, Jennifer Lackey, Sarah
Lawksy, Gregory Mark, Janice Nadler, and John McGinnis for their helpful suggestions and insights.
Sarah Crocker and Tom Gaylord, Faculty Services and Scholarly Communications Librarian,
contributed outstanding research assistance, and the Northwestern University Pritzker School of
Law Faculty Research Program furnished generous financial support.

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