Abstract

When people alleging sexual assault are interviewed by police, their accounts are tested to see if they would stand up in court. Some tests are in the form of tendentious questions carrying implications (e.g., that the sex was consensual) damaging to the complainant's allegation. In a qualitative analysis of 19 English police interviews with people with intellectual disability (ID) defined in a variety of ways, we show how people with ID deal with the pragmatic complexity of such tendentious questions. We give examples in which the complainants detect and resist the questions' damaging implications; but we focus on occasions when the complainants do not do so. We discuss the use of tendentious questions in the light of national United Kingdom guidelines on the treatment of vulnerable witnesses.

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