Added: November 26, 2003 – Last updated: March 4, 2017


Author: Constance Backhouse

Title: The Doctrine of Corroboration in Sexual Assault Trials in Early Twentieth-Century Canada and Australia

Subtitle: -

Journal: Queen's Law Journal

Volume: 26

Issue: 2

Year: Spring 2001

Pages: 297-338

ISSN: 0316-778X – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: Canadian History; Oceanian History: Australian History | Cases: Offenders / Leo Paul Hubin, Louis Sullivan; Cases: Victims / Ila Florence Collins, Sophie Oleksiuk; Prosecution: Trials / Carnal Knowledge; Types: Child Sexual Abuse; Victims: Girls



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Author: Constance Backhouse, Faculty of Law - Common Law Section, University of OttawaAuthor's Personal Website, ResearchGate, Wikipedia

Abstract: »The author compares two early twentieth century criminal cases, one Australian and one Canadian, involving carnal knowledge of a child. The cases illustrate the parallel development of the doctrine of corroboration in sexual assault cases in the two countries - a doctrine which was based on the belief that the testimony of women and girls in such cases was inherently suspect. By requiring that corroborating evidence be independent of the complainant's testimony, and by interpreting that requirement in an extremely rigid way to exclude particular items of evidence that strongly supported the complaints, the courts in both cases imposed unjustified obstacles to the conviction of men accused of sexual offences. This misuse of the doctrine of corroboration contradicted the ideals of evenhanded justice and gender equality in both Canada and Australia.« (Source: Queen's Law Journal)


  Introduction (p. 297)
  I. Ila Collins and Sophie Olesiuk: Two Highly Credible Witnesses (p. 304)
  II. The "Back-Up Evidence" (p. 307)
  III. Whittling Down the Scope of Legal Corroboration: The Australian Example (p. 309)
  IV. Strangling the Doctrine of Corroboration: The Canadian Example (p. 318)
  Conclusion (p. 335)

Reprint: Backhouse, Constance. »The Doctrine of Corroboration in Sexual Assault Trials in Early Twentieth-Century Canada and Australia.« From Subjects to Citizens: A Hundred Years of Citizenship in Australia and Canada. Edited by Pierre Boyer et al. Ottawa 2004: 123-160. – Bibliographic Entry: Info

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of Australia / History of Australia (1901–45) | History of the Americas: History of Canada / Canada in the World Wars and Interwar Years | Sex and the law: Carnal knowledge, Child sexual abuse