Sexual Assault Training & Investigations


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SATI e-News:  June 26,2006

 Brought to you by SATI, Inc.
Sexual Assault Training and Investigation
 

In this issue:

Sexual Assault News

  • Police Negligence Costs Colorado Town $240,000 in Settlement with Rape Victims

  • Rape Statistics Defy Overall Increase in Crime Rate

Legislative News

  • New VAWA Funding Stalls in Appropriations Process

  • NY Expands DNA Database, Repeals Statute of Limitations for Rape

Court Rulings

  • US Supreme Court Holds that 911 Calls are Non-Testimonial

  • U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds the Right of Crime Victims to Speak at Sentencing

Forensic News

  • DNA Testing Confirms Guilt of Man Executed for Rape-Murder in 1992

  • Statistical Significance of a Cold Hit is Tested in D.C. Courts

  • Problems Deepen at Houston Crime Lab

  • Retired Detectives Hired to Clear Cold Case Backlog in LASO

  • Oregon Crime Lab Finds Support from Grassroots Fundraisers

Promising Practices: From the Desk of the Training Director

  • VAWA 2005 and the Implications for Community Response to Sexual Assault

Featured Resources

 

 

Sexual Assault News

 

 
Police Negligence Costs Colorado Town $240,000 in Settlement with Rape Victims
 

The city of Aurora, Colorado agreed to pay $60,000 each to four rape victims in order to prevent them from suing the city for negligence and shoddy police work, according to the Associated Press. The four were victims of a serial rapist who police released after he admitted to molesting an 8-year old boy. City officials reportedly feared that if the case had gone to trial it would have bankrupted the jurisdiction. [read more]
 
Rape Statistics Defy Overall Increase in Crime Rate

 
Last week’s release of the FBI’s preliminary 2005 Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) shows a slight decline in the incidence of rape, while all violent crime increased by 2.5 percent. UCR data is collected from local police departments and so is based on actual crime reports.
 
The downward trend is mirrored by the annual Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is a phone survey of thousands of individuals over the age of 12. The NCVS shows an 85 percent decline in the per-capita rape rate since 1979.
 
“I can’t say I’m totally surprised by the drop in sexual violence,” remarked Joanne Archambault, Executive Director of EVAW International. “For each of the past twelve years, Congress has appropriated tens of millions of dollars for advocates across the country to conduct Rape Prevention and Education programs [through VAWA] so I’d be surprised if we did not see an impact from all those efforts, she concluded.” [read more]

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Legislative News

 
   
New VAWA Funding Stalls in Appropriations Process
 
Last year’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created a new funding source for sexual assault service providers. Known as the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), the program authorizes funding for direct victim services (separate from the Rape Prevention and Education program). However, because of the late passage of VAWA, funding for SASP was not included in the Administration’s budget request for 2007. As a result, advocates are urging Congress to add $50 million in funding for SASP to Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations legislation which is now working its way through Congress. While the House appropriations 2007 appropriations bill passed this year without SASP, there is still a chance of getting it in the Senate bill, which is in draft. Call and urge your Senator to support the addition of SASP to this year’s appropriations bill. For additional information on VAWA 2007 refer to the Campaign for Funding to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.
 
NY Expands DNA Database and Repeals Statute of Limitations for Rape
 
After several months of impasse, lawmakers in Albany finally reached agreement on several major issues affecting rape victims late last week, just two days before the end of the legislative session. The legislation expands the DNA database, repeals the five year statute of limitations in criminal felony rape cases, extends the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault from one to five years and toughens sentencing. While the legislation is not yet signed into law, it is fully expected to be since Governor George Pataki initiated proposals on these issues and actively lobbied for their passage. After the agreement was reached Pataki told the Times Union, “I can almost guarantee we will have a significant drop in violent crime next year.” [read more]

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Court Rulings

 
   
Supreme Court Holds That 911 Calls are Non-Testimonial
 
The Supreme Court handed down its decision this past week on the so-called “Double Crawford case” which has been followed closely by Domestic Violence prosecutors around the country as it relates to the admissibility of evidence in two DV trials. In both trials, evidence was admitted into court but the victim did not attend the proceedings. Both men were convicted. In their appeals, the two defendants claimed that they were denied the ability to cross-examine the witness. Therefore the issue hinged on whether these two pieces of evidence – one a 911 call and one an affidavit taken from the victim at her home by police during a domestic disturbance call – were in fact testimonials and thus subject to cross-examination. [read more]
 
U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds the Right of Crime Victims to Speak at Sentencing

 
In the first case under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the right of crime victims to speak at the convicted criminal’s sentencing hearing. The Court of appeals made three important points in rendering its decision, according to John W. Gillis, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC):
  1. In passing the CVRA, it was the intent of Congress to allow crime victims to speak at sentencing hearings, not just submit victim impact statements.

  2. Victims have a right to speak even if there is more than one criminal sentencing. This ruling is important in cases with multiple defendants.

  3. The remedy for a crime victim denied the right to speak at a sentencing hearing is to have the sentence vacated and a new sentencing hearing held in which the victims are allowed to speak.

Sources:

Memo from John W. Gillis, Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), US Department of Justice, dated January 24, 2006
 
Kenna v. Ninth Circuit Court: The First Test Case,” About the Justice For All Act, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), US Department of Justice.
 
Court of Appeals decision, Kenna V. Ninth Circuit Court.

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Forensic News

 
   
DNA Testing Confirms Guilt of Man Executed for Rape-Murder in 1992
 
Modern DNA testing put to rest decades of controversy surrounding the guilt of Gary K. Coleman in the brutal rape and murder of his 19-year old sister-in law, Wanda McCoy. The crime rocked the small Appalachian coal town of Grundy, Virginia in 1981. The case gained national notoriety as Coleman appeared on TV and even on the cover of Time magazine proclaiming his innocence, which he did right up until his execution in 1992. Coleman’s supporters and anti-death penalty activists kept the case alive and hoped that new DNA techniques would finally exonerate him. Instead, the new DNA testing proved that there is a one in 19 million chance that semen found on the victim’s body belonged to someone other than Gary Coleman. [read more]
 
Statistical Significance of a Cold Hit is Tested in D.C. Courts
 
A Washington, D.C. Appeals Court overturned the ruling of a D.C. Superior Court judge who denied the admission of DNA evidence on the basis that there was not yet a consensus among scientists about the statistical significance of a cold hit. Although the DNA was finally entered into evidence, the jury deadlocked on the case, resulting in a mistrial.
 
Sources:
 
“Jury Deadlocks in Case that Relied on DNA,” Washington Post, April 15, 2006.
“DNA Ruling in 1999 D.C. Slaying Could Set Precedent,” Washington Post, December 19, 2005.

 
Problems Deepen at Houston Crime Lab
 

A year-long independent probe of the Houston Crime Lab has identified 93 DNA and serology cases having “major issues,” some of which date from 1980. The findings have already led to the release of two men from prison, and another questionable case involves an inmate on death row, according to the Houston Chronicle. National and state innocence projects are pursuing an additional 45 cases. The Houston lab has been closed since 2002. [read more]
 
Retired Detectives Hired to Clear Cold Case Backlog in LASO
 
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has made 30 arrests in cold cases with the help of a $1.5 million multi-year grant and the help of retired homicide investigators hired by the Department to sift through thousands of homicide files and review DNA samples. Officials told the Associated Press that the program will cost much less than hiring a dozen new deputies.
 
Source:
“LA County Hires Retired Detectives to Solve Cold Cases,” AP Alert, Nevada, March 28, 2006.
 
Oregon Crime Lab Finds Support from Grassroots Fundraisers
 
After years of budget cutbacks, the Oregon Crime Lab has bounced back and recently achieved its 1,000th cold hit on the DNA database, a particularly significant milestone for the state given its small population. Federal grants and a grassroots fundraising effort have helped ease the state’s sizable backlog of cases. $20,000 in donations from small fundraising dinners and private donations paid for 660 profiles to be entered into the database, ten of which resulted in hits, including a rape and an unsolved homicide.
 
Source:
“Crime Lab Keeps Cranking Out ‘Hits,’” The Oregonian, March 1, 2006.

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Promising Practices: From the Desk of the Training Director

 
 

 
VAWA 2005 and the Implications for Community Response to Sexual Assault
 by Dr. Kim Lonsway, EVAW International Director of Research, and Joanne Archambault, SATI Training Director and Founder of EVAW International
 
Note: Our summary of VAWA 2005 provisions was reviewed by Marnie Shiels, Esq., from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
 
In 2005, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 in legislation commonly referred to as VAWA 2005. The purpose of this Promising Practices article is to describe some of the provisions that will have an impact on how communities respond to sexual assault. In particular, we will focus on three provisions specifying that:
 
(1) States must pay for forensic exams for victims of sexual assault, in order to remain eligible for STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grants (commonly referred to as STOP Grant funds).
 
(2) States have discretion regarding whether or not to cover the costs for medical testing and treatment conducted as part of a forensic exam.
 
(3) States may now use federal STOP Grant funds to pay for forensic exams as long as they are performed by trained examiners and the costs are not billed to victims or their private insurance.
 
(4) To remain eligible for STOP Grant funds, victims cannot be required to participate in the criminal justice system in order to obtain a forensic exam. According to the American Prosecutors Research Institute, 38 states and the District of Columbia have statutes that may require a rape to be reported before a forensic examination is paid for.
 
We will describe each of these provisions in a bit more detail, and then explore their implications. [read more]
 

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Featured Resources

 
   
Online Training Institute Coming Soon
 
End Violence Against Women (EVAW) International is developing a comprehensive On-Line Training Institute to bring state-of-the art training on the topic of criminal justice response to sexual assault, with particular emphasis on those crimes committed by someone who is known to the victim (i.e., non-strangers). This resource is geared to criminal justice professionals but also has applications for others in the field. For instance, victim advocates will benefit by increasing their knowledge of the criminal justice system so they can provide more effective services for their clients. Certificates will be issued upon successful completion of each course. The introductory module, “Effective Report Writing: Using The Language of Non-Consensual Sex,” is provided free of charge. Find out more about EVAW International’s Online Training Institute and sign up to be notified by email when the online institute launches.
 
A Survivor’s Story
 
The video “A Survivor’s Story” is a first-hand account of the impact of violence on the life of a little girl, as told by Olga Trujillo. The video is available in both Spanish and English and is presented in four ten-minute segments, ideal for training. This insightful documentary has proven to be a powerful training tool and a lifeline for those beginning their own journey towards survival and healing. Ordering information
 
Photo Documentation Color Scale
 
Each time a roll of film is taken at a crime scene or during a forensic exam, the first exposure should be of a photo documentation color scale documenting the photographer, case number, date, and time. They can be placed next to a person or object to provide scale. Submit the card with the roll of film to the lab so the darkroom technician can match the colors to produce a color-accurate photograph. The photographer can also testify in court with the card to demonstrate that the colors represented in the photograph are true and accurate. Business card size 3 5/8" x 2". 50 per package. Order now
 
Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judge’s Role in Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault Cases
 
This DVD was produced by the National Judicial Education Program and is based on its nationwide curriculum. It is valuable to a variety of audiences including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, medical personnel, victim advocates and probation departments. Ordering information
 
EVAW International Conference Manuals Now Available
If you were unable to attend EVAW International’s recent conferences, you can still own the manuals which contain a wealth of information in PowerPoint format.
  • MAD: A Multi-Disciplinary, Collaborative Approach to Investigating & Prosecuting Non-Stranger Sexual Assault – Kansas City, MO. Topics include: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault; Initiating, Building and Sustaining a Rural SARRT, How to Improve Your Investigation, Management and Prosecution of Strangulation Cases; Investigating Sexual Assault in a Rural Community. Order now while limited supplies last.
     
  • EVAW International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking – Baltimore, MD. This valuable resource includes PowerPoint presentations from dozens of the country’s top experts on topics such as: Advocates and Confidentiality, Prosecuting Sexual Assault Cases with Voluntarily Intoxicated Drug Victims, Courtroom Role Playing, Protecting Child Sexual Assault Victims Caught in the Court System, Law Enforcement Responses to Stalking, and Finding and Getting Grants. Order now while limited supplies last.

New Online DNA Training Module: Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court
 
The National Institute of Justice offers a 15-module online tutorial about Forensic DNA. The course is designed for prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges but could be of interest to other sex crimes professionals as it provides an introduction to DNA analysis and legal issues surrounding DNA evidence.

 

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