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Notifying Sexual Assault Victims When Evidence Is Tested - Interview With Dr. Noel Busch-Armendariz

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2014
1 page
This video and transcript of an interview with Noel Busch-Armendariz , a staff member at the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses findings and recommendations regarding the notifying of sexual assault victims about the forensic data obtained from sexual assault kits, as well as the contextual findings associated with the alleged sexual assault.
The project included focus groups with sexual assault victims in order to determine their preferences regarding notification about evidence collected in the case investigation. Victims expressed a preference for letting them decide when they will receive notification of forensic evidence from the testing of sexual assault kits. In response to this preference, the Houston Police Department established an information hot line for sexual assault victims. Victims have the choice about whether to use the hot line to obtain information on the investigation of their cases. A justice advocate responds to each victim's call in a sensitive and supportive manner, recognizing that the information provided may be upsetting to the victim. Dr. Busch-Armendartiz notes, however, that a small percentage of reported sexual assaults yield forensic information based on the testing of sexual assault kits. The evidence most often involved in sexual assault cases pertains to contextual evidence, such as the victim-offender relationship, whether offenders and/or victims were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the alleged sexual assaults, the social context for the interaction between offender and victim, and the offender and victim's pre-assault behavior and interaction. Sensitivity to victims must take into account how such information can be sensitively acquired by and/or reported to victims.

Date Published: April 1, 2014