Investigating Sexual Assault Cases
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Investigating Sexual Assault Cases

Arthur S. Chancellor

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eBook - ePub

Investigating Sexual Assault Cases

Arthur S. Chancellor

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Investigating Sexual Assault Cases, Second Edition serves as an essential textbook for courses in investigating rape and sexual assault. As with the first edition, this second edition includes the latest research and techniques in coverage of victimology, offender typology, investigative techniques, interviewing, and legal implications.

This new, second edition includes chapters on child victims and molestation, sexual homicides as potentially staged events, grooming, interviewing techniques, and same-sex, elder, and special populations as victims of sexual assault. The book fills a current void in the body of literature on the topics of rape and sex crime investigation. Many previous writings, while informative, do not address all the investigative processes necessary for an investigation to be thorough and complete. By providing a fresh approach to the topic, the author aims to augment those writings and, ultimately, improving the reader' awareness by being much more attuned to the needs of—and taking investigative cures from—the victim.

Key Features:

  • Outlines the complete investigative process for sexual assault cases, from evidence collection and interviews to court and legal proceedings

  • Addresses victims and victimology, offender typology, the importance of the investigative interviewing process, and working with attorneys

  • Includes new chapters on grooming, sexual homicides, SAFE examinations, and child-specific interviewing techniques

  • Added coverage looks at same-sex crimes, crimes against men, elder victims, and assault of vulnerable populations

In addition to being used in coursework in Forensic Science and Criminal justice programs, Investigating Sexual Assault Cases, Second Edition will serve as an essential reference for police detectives, criminal and death investigators, legal professionals, sexual assault nurses, and those who provide health, and mental health, services to populations experiencing sexual assault.

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CRC Press

1Introduction to Rape and Sexual Assault

DOI: 10.4324/9781003104384-1
Undoubtedly there are few categories of crime that affect the community and their victims as much as rape, sexual assaults, and the other so-called sex-related crimes. As noted by Oliva (2013), the term sex crimes is used by the police and the general public when referring to those crimes that involve a sexual act or component. However, as will be noted throughout the book, the offenses we associate with “sex” are not really about sex. They are not based on the offender’s sexual needs, but rather the offender using sex as a tool of aggression to address their nonsexual needs. (Lanning and Hazelwood 1988). Therefore, sexual assaults are really an act of violence and more about anger, power, and control than a sex act.
The terms “sex-related crimes” and “sex crimes” are often used interchangeably to describe the many offenses involving sex acts. What constitutes these offenses may differ by culture, jurisdiction, and legal definition. However, they generally include but are not limited to any forced sexual acts or other offenses including sodomy, incest, child pornography, and may include status crimes such as carnal knowledge.
Lanning and Hazelwood (1988) also address several important concepts in the problem of investigating and prosecuting these types of crimes. The first is the general societal attitude of denial concerning aspects of rape, and other sexual crimes such as child sexual abuse or child prostitution. Denial in this context means that people simply do not want to believe or accept that these things happen in our society or that reputable, well-known, and respected people are sometimes involved. The second problem is the general stereotypical understanding of the term sex crimes. Because the term “sex crime” really presents a dichotomy, whenever we hear the word “sex” we tend to think of terms like “pleasure,” “ecstasy,” “warmth,” “sharing,” “love,” and “emotion.” These terms are generally pleasant and comforting to us. But, when we hear the word “crime” we associate this with violence, anger, devastation, and fear. These terms are more associated with physical harm and punishment. Therefore, the two words really do not go together to describe these events.
For laymen, what is generally heard or understood is the sex part of the term without fully understanding the “crime” aspect. Lanning and Hazelwood (1988) offer a much better description of these crimes as “interpersonal violence or criminal sexuality” because these terms better reflect what these crimes are about. Another better descriptive term to define these actions is sexualized violence – defined as violence against the victim enacted in a sexual way.
Another example of one of the difficulties revolving around rape and other so-called “sex crimes” is to compare them with other criminal acts. All we must do is think of our own individual response or imagine the public’s response to any of the more common crimes, such as the theft of a motor vehicle, the burglary of a home, or even physical child abuse. In each of these crimes the public almost always accept and empathize with the victim because no one wants to lose their possessions, no one wants to see another person, particularly a child, injured, and certainly there is a great deal of general animus by the public toward the offenders and their criminal acts. But what is missing from these types of crimes is the general suspicion on the part of the public and police that the person making the complaint is making a false report. Generally, complaints about other criminal acts are almost always accepted at face value as presented by the victim. But this is not necessarily the case with rape and other sex-related crimes. As we will cover in more detail throughout the book, sex-related crimes are the only offenses where we, culturally or as a society, tend to disbelieve victims more readily when they make a report of their sexual victimization than other crimes; and before their complaint is taken seriously, we almost insist that victims should be able to prove they are not lying. LeDoux & Hazelwood (1985) note detectives are not necessarily insensitive to the plight of victims, but they are certainly cautious and suspicious of victims who meet certain criteria such as previous and willing contact with the assailant or provocative appearance of behavior. It is also one of the few crimes where police and other researchers are so concerned with statistics of false reporting or what is often referred to as unfounded.
The term “unfounded” has no standard definition in the law enforcement community and it has come to mean different things to different agencies. For instance, it could mean an investigation was closed based on a lack of cooperation of the victim, or the victim requested not to proceed any further with the investigation. Unfounded could also describe allegations that were determined to be baseless, that is, where the reported event did not meet the elements of proof for a sexual assault, or the complaint was an intentional false report. Therefore, the investigation determined the alleged offense never happened and was thus “unfounded.” The difficulty when conducting research into this aspect of rape investigations lies in determining which definition was used by an agency.
These “unfounded” statistics by the police have been batted back and forth for years by different groups with varying agendas. The police may use them to reflect the difficulties in working these types of cases and to reflect a much lower incidence of occurrence. For instance, if 100 incidents of rape were reported in a community in any one year, but 30 of these cases were determined to be unfounded or never to have happened, then the police can report only 70 rape offenses had occurred during that reporting period – thereby showing the community was safer with only 70 victims than it might seem if the number of victims reported was 100. Various male groups have also used these same statistics to reflect the number of false reports confronting men, while feminist groups use the same statistics to reflect the callus treatment of victims by the male-dominated police forces. Each group will often criticize a particular study and how it was conducted, then respond with another study to show a much different rate.
The concept of false rape reports, however, is such a problem for detectives that it is generally covered in nearly every book written on this subject and thus is also addressed in greater detail in a separate chapter of this book.
The real overall impact of these “sex crimes” can be seen in the very way we live our lives and raise our children and how they affect our overall sense of safety. We see this in a constant barrage of sex and violence in the media and one only needs to read the newspaper or watch television (TV) to see examples of it. Media coverage of sex crimes becomes particularly saturated when there is a high-profile crime involving especially gruesome aspects of the crime, or involve a well-known victim or offender. An example is the media interest displayed following the comedian and TV star Bill Crosby’s arrest, trial, and conviction in 2018 for aggravated sexual assault.
Perhaps even worse is the community response and fear when there are reports of a serial offender operating within a particular jurisdiction, with multiple victims. Whenever these crimes are reported, the public becomes riveted to every salacious detail of what happened; much like our reality TV programs these events can be both captivating and repulsive at the same time. However, the problem with rape and sexual offenses is far more complex than just the terrible nature of the crimes themselves and the fear they bring to so many. It is the combination of the impact to the victim, the community’s reaction, coupled with the many myths and victim stereotypes that make this type of crime so difficult to investigate and even more difficult to prosecute.
Unfortunately, when dealing with any discussion of rape and sexual assaults, the victim, the offender, the criminal act, and the effect on the local community can be lost in the mix with the various competing groups arguing between each other. These divergent groups may seem well intentioned with their particular philosophical beliefs, but they often lose sight of the responsibilities as a society and particularly the police should protect the victims; identify, prosecute, and punish the offenders; and prevent future assaults.

Historical Perspective

There are numerous books already written covering the concept of rape and sexual assault and postulating various theories on why rape occurs. Which theory is correct is beyond this particular chapter as we are concerned with conducting the investigation and the identification and prosecution of offenders. However, it is important to give a brief historical context to rape and forced sexual assault to understand how the historical concept of rape and its victims affects our culture and community today. Rape and forced sex have played a role in human history and it would be conceivable that our early human ancestors such as Cro-Magnons, Neanderthals, and early Homo Sapiens also overpowered females from their clans or other groups and forced sex upon them. Historically there are essentially two versions or concepts of rape: one is through war and the other seen as a criminal offense within individual societies. Although they are essentially the same violations of the victims, they have been seen in different light throughout human history.

War Rape

In what we generally think of as ancient history, the rape of women of a conquered city by the victorious army was considered a part of the “spoils of war.” The plunder and theft of any valuables or personal effects, alo...

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