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Sexual Assault Evidence: National Assessment and Guidebook

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2001
119 pages
This document contains a survey of the collection, preservation, and use of physical evidence in sexual assault cases.
Seven locations were selected in different parts of the United States, and are representative of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Questionnaires were given to law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The purpose of the study was to determine how law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense attorneys view sexual assault cases, and how they perceive the value of different types of physical evidence. The physical evidence is mainly of two types: medical evidence, and physical evidence for subsequent laboratory analysis. Medical evidence generally consists of histories and observations made or taken by medical experts examining complainants in medical settings. Medical experts are also responsible for collecting “rape kit” evidence during this examination. Physical evidence for subsequent laboratory analysis includes the rape kit evidence and any other type of physical evidence found at the scene or elsewhere in connection with the investigation. Some recommendations as a result of this study are to coordinate the efforts of all the parties and agencies involved in sexual assault investigations to ensure that cases are handled, investigated, and prosecuted expeditiously; to provide specialized training in the handling of sexual assault cases for police personnel who respond to complaints; to secure and protect scenes of sexual assault to process for physical evidence; and to effectively communicate and coordinate with investigators and laboratory personnel. 3 figures, 19 tables, 231 references, 2 appendices

Date Published: October 1, 2001