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Just Key Considerations for Investigations of Sexual Assault Cases

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This fifth episode in the season of ”Perspectives on At-Home Sexual Assault Kits” of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Scott Mourtgos, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah, a NIJ LEADS Scholar, and the Deputy Chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department, who provides a law enforcement perspective in the discussion of at-home sexual assault kits.


An introductory note for the interview advises that some of the most challenging cases to investigate involve sexual assault. The forensic evidence in such cases is critical and involves the cooperation of victims. Deputy Chief Mourtgos, who is both a researcher and a veteran police officer experienced in investigating sexual assault cases, discusses investigative issues in sexual assault cases, including the use of at-home sexual assault kits. In recalling his involvement in sexual assault investigations in his career, he mentions a case that involved an 18-year-old girl being raped at gunpoint. The distinctiveness of this case was Mourtgos’ interaction with the victim throughout the full criminal justice process that involved defense challenges and a complete trial that ended in a conviction of the offender. The victim expressed her appreciation for Mourtgos’ support and guidance through her difficult journey to justice and case resolution. This experience impressed on Mourtgos the importance of managing these cases with sensitivity to their impact on victims. Mourtgos addresses the major difference between the administration of an at-home kit and the kit that would be used at a hospital. Mourtgos believes that victim needs are best met when a sexual assault kit is administered by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A SANE’s work is also a key contribution that increases the likelihood that criminal case processing will bring a positive outcome for sexual assault victims.


Date Published: January 1, 2022