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Sexual Assault: Virtual Training Takes Responders From Exam Room to Courtroom

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 258 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 11-15
Date Published
October 2007
5 pages
Publication Series

This article describes the "virtual sexual assault forensic facility" used by the Dartmouth Medical School and sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women as a state-of-the-art training tool for sexual assault forensic exams.


The virtual forensic facility consists of exam room A, exam room B, a pretrial preparation room, a courtroom area, a forensic lab area, a conference room, and a learning resources room. In exam room A, the student observes interactions between the sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) and a young woman named "Mary Lange." The student acts as an apprentice, working closely with a master practitioner in two scenarios. In one scenario, Mary has been raped by an acquaintance. In the second scenario, Mary has been the victim of a drug-facilitated assault. In exam room A, students conduct a complete sexual assault forensic examination from initial encounter with the victim through preparation of collected evidence. In exam room B, students observe the SAFE work with three patients with a mix of demographic variables, including age, gender, and relationship of the victim to the offender. Exam room B exposes students to various types of sexual assault. In the pretrial preparation room, students learn how to prepare for court testimony. In the courtroom area, the students learn how to be an expert witness in the exam room A case. In the forensic lab area, the student hears talks by forensic scientists on the basic science of DNA and how tests are interpreted. In the conference room, noted experts discuss a range of topics, including cultural competency and forensic photography. In the learning resources room, students hear personal accounts of sexual assault survivors, including their experiences with sexual assault forensic exams. 1 note

Date Published: October 1, 2007