Using data from 389 sexual assault (SA) complaints reported to Los Angeles police and referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, this study examines whether the victim-suspect racial-ethnic dyad and extra-legal victim-related factors shape prosecutorial initial filing decisions.
The sexual stratification hypothesis (SSH) posits that criminal-legal responses to sexual victimization differ depending on the victim-suspect racial-ethnic dyad. Existing tests of the SSH have resulted in inconsistent findings. Notably, we build on previous SSH tests by rotating racial-ethnic dyad reference categories to catalog all possible pairwise differences within the set of dummy variables. Findings suggest that prosecutors consider the victim-suspect racial-ethnic dyad and victim-related factors during initial filing. Theoretical advancements, practical implications, and suggestions for future research are discussed. (Publisher Abstract)