Forensic Evidence and Sexual Assault

A new technical report was recently made available by NIJ through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice Outcomes in a Statewide Sample of Sexual Assault Cases (pdf, 220 pages).


Theodore P. Cross, Ph.D., Megan Alderden, Ph.D., Alexander Wagner, M.A., Lisa Sampson, M.S.W., Brittany Peters, M.S., Meredith Spencer, M.A., Kaitlin Lounsbury, M.A.


Survivors of sexual assault not only suffer the terror and degradation of the assault, they are also at risk of revictimization from informal and professional responses that question their credibility and, in effect, blame them for the assault. When these cases are prosecuted, enormous demands are placed on victims; they must testify in court about the traumatic events of the crime and face assaults on their credibility both inside and outside the courtroom.

In this difficult context, investigative methods that increase evidence against assailants while decreasing the burden on victims are especially important, and advances in the technology and expertise of collecting and analyzing injury and forensic evidence offer promise.

This study:

  • Examines the frequency of injury and biological evidence in sexual assault cases;
  • Identifies case factors associated with the presence of injury and biological evidence;
  • Analyzes how often biological evidence is processed prior to versus after arrest;
  • Explores how injury and biological evidence as well as other factors are related to arrest; and
  • Examines results for key comparisons thought to be salient for forensic evidence: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners vs. other medical examiners; strangers vs. known suspects; child victims vs. adults and adolescents.

You can click here to download the paper.

Source: OJP 

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