Healing Justice: Lessons from Survivors of a Serial Rapist

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 12, 2023

Matt Irvine
Matt Irvine
Investigator, Portland Police Bureau

EVAWI promotes the ethos, “Start by believing.” In our work with victims of historical sexual assault, too often we had to start by apologizing. Under the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, we began by addressing the problem of untested kits. We quickly discovered a deeper systemic failure, not of forensics but of caring. Behind many of these kits was a victim who was disbelieved, disrespected, or discounted. As a result, they disconnected from their cases and were literally written off by law enforcement. 

This presentation uses the case of a serial predator and his victims to explore why cases go cold, and what we must do to revive them. It will explore the shortcomings of the original investigation and how new investigators; prosecutors and advocates overcame them to support the victims and hold the offender accountable. It will focus on what the victims taught us about connecting and staying connected, building and maintaining trust, and beginning to remedy past wrongs. The biggest lesson is that many cases fail not because of a lack of evidence, but due to a lack of empathy and understanding. When we fail to understand the realities of sexual assault, or believe the harm done to some of us matters less than the harm done to others, we increase trauma and protect offenders. When we lead with compassion for all victims, we increase the odds of healing and equal justice.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify misunderstandings and biases that harm victims and protect offenders.
  • Evaluate victim attrition and apparent non-cooperation in a trauma-informed manner.
  • Apply the lessons from the victims in this case to their own cases.
  • Conduct empathetic, effective, victim-centered investigations.

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