December 9, 2020
This presentation addresses the issues that investigators, prosecutors, victim advocates, and medical personal often encounter in alcohol facilitated sexual assaults. Investigators and prosecutors face many hurdles, including the consent defense, perceptions about “he said/she said” cases, and victims suffering from memory loss, as well as challenges related to victim shame, embarrassment, and lack of trust in law enforcement.
This means that sexual assault by intoxication cases are some of the hardest and most difficult cases to investigate and prosecute. These challenges are not typically found in other types of crimes which adds to the complexity of the community response. In these cases, first responders, including health care professionals, are often challenged by a victim´s inability to describe the crime due to memory gaps, or other perception difficulties caused by intoxication. Together, these challenges can impact an investigation, and ultimately the opportunity to successfully prosecute a case.
Recognizing and understanding these challenges will help improve the criminal justice response while advocates and health care professions will be better able to support victims of these crimes. However, understanding victims and how these crimes occur is only half the battle; getting a case into the courtroom is the other half. Many victims of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault delay reporting, often leaving investigators with the perception that they have little to no evidence. Yet another challenge is the misperception that false reporting is common, which has a significant impact on the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. During this session, the presenters will share their 25+ years of experience, and lessons learned, to overcome many of these challenges.
As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:
- Evaluate and analyze the applicability of the consent defense to the case facts
- Understand the unique credibility issues present in an intoxication rape case, and how to overcome juror skepticism.
- Recognize the differences in approaching an acquaintance versus stranger rape by intoxication case.
- Decide what types of evidence will be most valuable to prove the case, depending on the delay between the crime and the disclosure.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2018-TA-AX-K032 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.