Sexual Assault Incident Report
This form is intended to convey information needed to track the university response to the incident being reported, as well as to assess the danger the incident represents to the university community. All efforts must be made to maintain the victim’s anonymity; no information should be included which may identify the victim. Return this report to the ASU Department of Public Safety.
INVESTIGATING AND PROCESSING
A SEXUAL ASSAULT/ RAPE CALL: INITIAL STEPS
Once an officer has received a call pertaining to a sexual assault or rape, there are a few initial steps that must be carried out. Upon interviewing the victim and determining that an assault or rape has taken place, you as the investigation officer need to take the following initial steps:
- Have the dispatcher notify Chief Cooke and/or Capt. McNeal immediately.
- Have the dispatcher notify the current sexual assault officer for this department.
- ** Chief Cooke will notify all other college OFFICIALS and inform them of the situation.
Discuss with the victim the necessity of going to the hospital to have a rape examination performed. *** (This is not a pleasant ordeal for you or the victim, however; it is very important when we pursue legal charges against the suspect(s) to have this very crucial evidence.)
If the victim expresses the desire to carry out the legal process, pick up a rape kit and transport victim to the hospital.
The hospital usually calls an advocate from the rape crisis center to the hospital to talk with and provide support to the victim. (If no one is notified call the rape crisis center and request an advocate at 706/724-5200 (24 hours).
If you are the only officer available, you must collect any evidence that might be beneficial to the prosecution e.g. bedding that the assault might have taken place on, the victim’s clothing at the time of the assault etc. Also, always attend to the victim’s needs prior to trying to apprehend the suspect.
Rape, next to cold-blooded murder, is the most heinous of crimes. It is a vicious, brutal attack on women that leaves irreparable psychological scars long after the devastating experience. And, unfortunately, it is one of the most common crimes being committed today, possibly numbering more than the offense of robbery. Recent sex crimes research indicates:
- Two women are raped every minute in the United States.
- One woman in twelve will be raped sometime during the course of her lifetime.
- 78% of rape victims know their attackers prior to the commission of the act.
Only about 1/3 of all rapes are reported to police. According to a Senate Judiciary Committee report, the U. S. is NUMBER ONE in the world when it comes to the violent crimes of murder, robbery, and rape, a fact that has labeled rape “The American Crime.”
The investigation of a rape case is extremely difficult and demanding, requiring not only technical experience, but also sensitivity towards the victim. The criminal investigator should always remain cognizant of the fact that the entire criminal justice process, beginning with the initial police interview right through adjudication, poses an additional ordeal for the rape victim and her family. The trauma of rape leaves her at once hurt (physically and emotionally), angry, anxious, fearful, vengeful, confused, hate-filled, distrustful and etc. At times, the investigating officer(s) will find the victim uncooperative, even hostile during the interview/preliminary report phases of the investigation.
Sensitivity and understanding of the psychology of rape and sexual assault are prerequisites to a successful sex crime investigation.
Most big city police department have specialized units for sex crimes, but the vast majority of the nation’s law enforcement agencies do not possess that luxury and rely on all officers to at least have a fundamental understanding of procedures to be followed in sexual assault cases.
According to a number of different state penal codes rape can be defined as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Penetration of the vagina by the attacker’s penis must occur in order for the suspect to be charged with the crime of rape; otherwise, it is classified a sexual assault, with differing degrees of severity.
Rape is one of the most dangerous of offenses against a person since the potential exists for serious injury, severe psychological trauma, or death. The added terror of AIDS leaves little doubt that rape cases are unique, deserving special considerations. The gravity of such a crime is demonstrated by the fact that some civilized cultures once imposed the death penalty on convicted rapists.
Sex Crimes Evidence Kit
Even before investigation a rape or other sexual assault, the police officer or criminal investigator should make certain that the proper equipment is available to assist the investigator. In small agencies it may be advisable to keep a sexual assault forensic kit in the trunk of every cruiser. The kit should include:
- a comb
- specimen envelopes
- plastic microslide container with slides
- cytology fixative, syringe aspirator
- cotton applicators
- bacteria transport materials
- test tube for cotton applicators
- nose and mouth specimen paper
- 2”x 3” & 4”x 6” plastic bags
- 5ml and 20ml vials
- evacuated blood collections tubes
- evidence labels
- rape victim ID consent forms
- patient history and examination forms
- chain of evidence labels
- treatment record forms
This list of materials is by no means all-inclusive, but it does provide most of what will be required during the early stages of sex crimes investigation.
Elements of a Rape
Although the specific elements of the crime of rape differ from one jurisdiction to another, it is generally required that the evidence gathered and subsequently submitted proves:
- That the accused had sexual intercourse with a female.
- That the act of intercourse was committed by force of the threat of physical force.
- That the act was committed without consent of the woman.
- That the act was committed at a time when the victim was unconscious, drugged, intoxicated or so mentally incapacitated or deficient that she could not agree to the act of sexual intercourse with offender or
- That the evidence indicates resistance by the victim thereby demonstrating that the intercourse occurred without her consent and against her will.
Although, the penis must be inserted into the vagina in order to classify the assault as rape, the male need not experience ejaculation. Therefore the act of penetration not completeness of the act differentiates rape from sexual assault.
This is of prime importance since, on occasion, a complainant will claim she was raped a result of a sexually motivated assault, but a physical exam reveals no penetration does not negate the fact that a crime occurred, only that the assailant will not face rape charges.
Interview & Crime Scene Procedures
The officer/investigator’s first duty at the scene of a rape or other sex crime is to render assistance or aid to the victim. For example, the officer should immediately obtain medical attention for the woman. If the attack has been a brutal one, and she is suffering from injuries, the officer should attempt to question the victim about the incident only if she is willing and able to speak.
The initial inquiry will basically consist of the old standbys: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why. This initial interview should be made, if possible, while awaiting the ambulance or enroute to a health care facility.
If the identity of the suspect(s) is known, and he is not physically at the scene, the investigation officer should make arrangements for apprehension after attending to the victim’s, needs, and gathering as much information and material evidence as possible.
Usually the responding officer at a rape scene will face a victim under extreme emotional stress ranging from hysteria to severe depression. Shock is not uncommon. The officer must act as a reassuring comforter while trying to alleviate the victim’s fear and acquiring her trust. Experience strongly suggests that a female officer may best aid a rape victim. In the absence of a member of the same sex as the victim, a female relative or friend should be summoned as soon as possible.
During the first state of the rape investigation, the officers must secure the crime scene and conduct a search for physical traces of the attacker. While speaking with the victims, the investigator should determine if there is any physical evidence on her person that requires preservation. Frequently, a rape victim will pull the assailant’s hair or tear his clothing, or scratch his face thereby accumulating skin tissue or bloodstains under her fingernails. The victim’s clothes may also provide the investigators with important information. This valuable evidence must be collected, preserved and sent to the forensics laboratory with other crime scene evidence for analysis.
The clothing worn by the victim at the time of the sex crime may offer a wealth of evidence and should be secured as soon as possible without embarrassing the already emotionally fragile woman. The clothing will scientifically be examined for blood or seminal stains as well as hair and fibers that may lead to the identification of the rapist. The newly developed DNA identification process works best with seminal evidence because of the abundance of nucleic acid found in the male reproductive fluid.
Evidential material, including clothing, should be handled carefully to protect the integrity of the specimens and to safeguard the chain of possession. The investigator should follow these simple guidelines:
- Evidence should be properly packaged, labeled, and marked before being submitted to forensic lab.
- The number of people handling the evidence must be restricted.
- The investigator should make certain he or she initials each piece of physical evidence.
- Sworn statements should be checked and re-checked for accuracy.
Semen & Hair
Two of the most valuable pieces of physical evidence in a rape case are semen and hair. As mentioned earlier, DNA testing works well in rape cases because of the nucleic acid contained in semen, as well as hair. During sexual intercourse, the transfer of these materials from one body to another provides the investigator with invaluable evidence and investigating aids.
Seminal traces may be located by ultraviolet radiation. These traces are usually found on a victim’s undergarments or on bedding, towels, handkerchiefs, robes, cushions and the items likely to be present at a rape scene. Bloodstains may be found similarly.
Hair may also be part of the reciprocal transfer of tissue. Recovered hair is usually microanalyzed to determine sex, race, age and other characteristics of a suspect. Even a single strand is sufficient to ID a rapist. Microanalysis can also determine the area of the body from which it came such as from the scalp, chest, arm, or pubic portion of the anatomy.
Although, the investigators usually examine semen, blood and hair found on a victim, they may also be able to secure these items from a suspect who possesses the victim’s hair, blood or bodily fluids on his person or clothing.
The Medical Examination
The most intrusive phase of a rape investigation is the medical exam. This examination and treatment’s purpose is two-fold: First, it is needed for therapeutic and prophylactic reasons; second, it is necessary to establish proof of penetration. A forensic medicine specialist should conduct the exam. Many times a victim will insist on having a family perform the examination, but she should be discouraged from that, especially since a private physician may not have the experience in rape investigation, as well as the fact that the victim’s personal doctor will be inexperience in testifying in a court of law, thereby jeopardizing the case.
The medical examination will include:
- Visual examination of the vaginal area
- Tests to determine if there is tissue damage
- Examination of lacerations, abrasions, contusions or other physical conditions
- Pap smear test of vagina passage to ascertain the presence or absence of the rapist’s sperm
In a case where the victim dies as a result of the rape, the examination would include other cavities such as the anus, mouth, ears and etc.
Issues Surrounding Rape Cases
The issue of rape is a sensitive one and has recently become a political one as well. The investigator must keep an open mind at the outset. There are women who made rape and sexual assault claims that were later found to be untrue. To discover whether a complaint is fact or fiction, the investigator must conduct a thorough, efficient and far-reaching investigation. Separating truth from lies is an extremely difficult process. This majority of rape reports are factual; however, be suspicious if:
- The complaint is made after a good deal of time has elapsed between the time the alleged rape occurred and the time the victim initially makes a complaint. (Do not discredit a complaint filed a few hours or a day or two later. Some victims may hesitate to notify the police for a number of reasons.)
- The victim refuses to undergo a medical exam.
- The victim suggests that the police forget about her complaint.
- The woman has a history of making rape complaints.
- The investigator does not observe any physical evidence of rape, i.e. injuries, bruises, torn clothing, etc.
- The victim appears eager to drop charges against a rapist.
- The victim has a medical history of mental illness.
The investigator should not make judgments. His or her job is to gather information and evidence identify and apprehend a suspect and eventually testify during a criminal proceeding. The officers investigating a rape should always treat the victim with courtesy and respect and investigate the case with the utmost professionalism. On the other hand, police officers and investigators must remember that the accused has rights, too. A false charge of rape can destroy a life and a reputation.
Drug Related Rape
The increase in the number of sex crimes today may be partially a result of widespread abuse of pre-free based cocaine, known as crack. Cocaine has long been considered an aphrodisiac within the drug culture, and its affect on the central nervous system and thought processing system can induce a robber to add rape to his list of crimes.
While serving in a New York housing development, this writer observed firsthand the increase in sex attacks linked to crack use. Many addicts sexually mauled victims as part of robberies committed to gain cash for drugs.
One such rapist, Wayne Perry, known by newspaper reporters and readers as “The Rush Hour Bandit” had included rape to his M.O. (When this writer apprehended Perry for breaking and entering, it wasn’t known that he was a serial rapist.) He would attack, rob and rape women who were traveling to or from work. Another link between crack and rape is the large number of rapes occurring in crack houses.
People tend to become extremely violent under the influence of crack and their rapes proved to be most brutal. Too often, the victims of crack related rapes are also addicts themselves, sometimes engaged in prostitution. Yet, the investigator should be aware that prostitutes and addicts could also be victims.
Rape and sexual assault are ugly, demeaning crimes that know no social boundaries. The woman living in Beverly Hills or the one living in a “crack city” housing projects share a common truth-they are both potential rape victims. Law enforcement officers who have sworn to protect and serve must be prepared to effectively deal with this type of violence, vigorously and professionally.