This module is designed to help communities address the complex challenges of untested evidence in sexual assault cases. While the material is largely written with reference to cold cases, much of the guidance applies equally to current sexual assault cases and investigations that have been recently inactivated or suspended.
For example, we explore the “forklift approach” in detail and compare alternative strategies to prioritize cases for testing and follow-up investigation. We discuss issues arising from the public disclosure of untested kits, including community education and media responses. We then provide concrete recommendations for policies and practice, including the development or improvement of a Cold Case Unit and the creation of tools to prioritize testing and investigations. Specific guidance is offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process. Perhaps most important, we highlight the need for sufficient resources to support the analysis of sexual assault kits and other evidence, as well as the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases – both old and new.
Estimated time for completion: 10 hours