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SATI e-News: November 25, 2002

  

 
In This Issue:
      
    
  New Resources:
     
 
  Promising Practices: Message From the Desk of SATI Training Director
 
 
  Officials Apprehend and Charge Suspect in Belmont Shore Serial Rapes
     
 

The Los Angeles County district attorney charged 32 year-old Mark Wayne Rathbun with 64 burglary and sex crimes charges last week, in connection with the rapes of 14 victims since 1996. Police arrested Rathbun earlier this month, and they believe he is responsible for an additional 16 rapes, extending from Southern California to Washington State during the same time period.
 
The majority of the attacks occurred within a 20-mile radius of Long Beach, terrorizing the community for six long years. The victims, almost all of whom lived alone, ranged in age from their early 30s to their 80s, according to the Associated Press. Authorities believe that various odd jobs Rathbun held over the years, which included being a deliveryman, parking valet and supermarket bagger, gave him the opportunity to target victims and plan his attacks.
 
Rathbun evaded the Long Beach Police Department for six years until he emerged as a suspect during the investigation of the latest rape on November 7th. Police conducted a dragnet of the crime scene and picked up Rathbun who was riding his bike at the time. They arrested him on drug possession. Investigators had long suspected a bike was the perpetrator's means of transportation, since victims rarely saw or heard a vehicle, according to a Los Angeles (LA) Times report. Police rushed processing of his DNA sample, which then linked him to twelve of the serial rapist's victims. They have built other evidence on an additional two rapes.
 
Rathbun first popped up on the radar screen of police 15 years ago when he was arrested at age 17 on suspicion of being a peeping Tom. Then at age 19 he entered the open window of a woman's home, and was clad only in his underwear. He pinned her to the bed and ordered her not to scream, according to an account in the LA Times. Rathbun then claimed he was hungry. The woman gave him flour tortillas, a popsicle and a frozen turkey, and he fled.
 
He was apprehended by police that same night, still in possession of the turkey, and pleaded guilty to residential burglary and false imprisonment by using violence-crimes for which he served ten months and was given three years' probation. Deputy District Attorney Richard Goul told the LA Times that Rathbun's DNA was not on file because he was incarcerated one year before it became mandatory to collect DNA from felony suspects in California. Had Rathbun's DNA been on file, he would have registered on the radar screen of law enforcement sooner.
 
The arrest of Rathbun comes four years after Jeffrey Allen Grant was arrested and wrongly imprisoned as the Belmont Shore rapist, based on the testimony of two eyewitnesses. Grant was in jail for three months before DNA testing proved him innocent, right before the trial was to start. A federal jury awarded Grant $1.7 million in damages in 2000, according to an LA Times account.
 
Sources:
 

"Alert Issued for Sexual Predator in 31 Attacks," Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2002.
 
"Rape Suspect Arrested in Calif.," November 11, 2002, The Associated Press.
 
"Long Beach Man Arrested in 'Belmont Shore Serial Rapist' Case," Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2002.
 
"Suspected Rapist was Convicted of Similar Crimes," Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2002.
 
"Alleged Belmont Rapist is Charged," Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2002.

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  Harvard Responds to Title IX Violation; OCR Ruling Expected in February
     
  Harvard University denied that its new policy of handling sexual assault cases violates Title IX gender discrimination laws, in its official response to a legal challenge filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Although Harvard’s response was filed in September, it was just recently made public and was reported in the Harvard Crimson.
 
According to the Crimson, the University stated its commitment to addressing claims of sexual harassment, explained the Administrative Board procedure and then went on to describe on-campus resources available to victims of sexual harassment.
 
Boston attorney Wendy Murphy filed the complaint this past summer on behalf of an anonymous student with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR is expected to issue its ruling by February. View sources and links to related articles.

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  Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Megan’s Law Challenge
      
  The Supreme Court heard two days of oral arguments last week in separate challenges to sex offender registration laws in Alaska and Connecticut. The statutes are modeled after the law passed in New Jersey after the death in 1994 of seven year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered by a neighbor, a twice-convicted sex offender who had been released on parole. Megan’s parents and the rest of the community were unaware of their neighbor’s criminal history.
 
Sex offender laws require convicted rapists and pedophiles that have served their sentences to keep police advised of their current residence and other personal data. In 30 states, that data is then made available to the public via the Internet, according to the Washington Post. Within eight years of Megan’s brutal murder, all 50 states and the District had passed some form of sex offender law, spurred by a federal law that threatened to withhold crime-fighting grants from states that did not pass Megan's Laws, according to the New York Times. The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to address two separate constitutional issues, and will be broadly applicable to similar statutes elsewhere in the country.
 
Civil liberties groups and lawyers representing convicted offenders argue that the registry listing constitutes new punishment for old crimes, violating principles of due process, double jeopardy and the right to privacy. During last week’s oral arguments in the Megan’s Law challenge, court watchers listened closely to questions posed by the justices as signs indicating how they will fall on this decision. According to the Washington Post, while several justices seemed troubled by the fact that sex offenders can be on the sex offender list without the benefit of a formal hearing that each one still poses a danger, they seemed unsure that such an action violates anyone’s constitutional rights. According to the Post, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the comment “If you make a mistake about a pickpocket, someone is out some change,” she said. “Here the consequences of a mistake are much more serious.”
 
The timing of the Court’s decision is unknown. SATI will continue to follow this story and publish the outcome in an upcoming issue of SATI e-News.
 
Sources:
 
“States' Listings of Sex Offenders Raise a Tangle of Legal Issues,” New York Times, November 4, 2002.
 
“Megan’s Laws Challenged at Supreme Court,” Washington Post, November 14, 2002.
 
”Court Hears Challenges to Megan’s Laws,” New York Times, November 13, 2002.

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  April’s SATI Conference To Emphasize Trial and Prosecutorial Issues;
Scholarships Available for Judges and Sex Crimes Prosecutors
     
  The San Diego SART Committee and the Donner Foundation announced a scholarship program for practicing prosecutors and judges to attend the third annual International Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Conference to be held in San Diego April 23- 25, 2003. “We’re very excited about the prospect of having more prosecutors and judges join us next year,” remarked Joanne Archambault, founder and Training Director of Sexual Assault Training and Investigations (SATI) and one of the two conference organizers.
 
The scholarship program dovetails with the emphasis of next year’s conference on the trial and related prosecutorial issues. Presenters include Judge Ron Adrine (Cleveland, Ohio), Leslie A. Hagen (Assistant US Attorney, Western District of Michigan), Anne P. Munch (JD, Golden, Colorado), Diane Rosenfeld (Professor, Harvard University), and Wendy Murphy (Boston attorney and visiting scholar, Harvard Law School.)
 
“Prosecutors are such a critical part of the Sexual Assault Response Team and we want to have their viewpoint in our multi-disciplinary trainings.” Archambault added, “What’s more, the dockets of judges are so overloaded that they rarely get the opportunity to participate and reflect on the broader issues surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence cases.” “We believe this conference will be better for their participation, and Anne O’Dell and I are grateful to the San Diego SART Committee and the Donner Foundation for working together to make this happen,” Archambault concluded.
 
Two types of scholarships will be offered. The first is a $250 “registration only” scholarship (a significant reduction from the normal registration fee). Recipients of this scholarship will automatically have registration costs paid. The second scholarship for $750 is intended primarily for out-of-town attendees who will have travel and lodging expenses. Recipients of this scholarship will automatically have registration costs paid; the balance of $500 will be paid to the attendee at the close of the conference on April 25, 2003.
 
The deadline for applications is January 10, 2003. Notification of scholarship awards will be made at the end of January 2003. Click here for scholarship application.
 
Click here for 2003 conference information.

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  New Sexual Assault Resources Available
     
  "Sexual Assault Benchbook" Available Online

The Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI) recently announced its "Sexual Assault Benchbook" is available online. MJI creates resources, including benchbooks with the latest information on procedures and the state of the law, and directs training programs for judges and court personnel to enhance their professional skills. The Sexual Assault Benchbook is a comprehensive sourcebook for information on the impact of the crime on victims, Michigan's sexual assault related statutes, including applicable defenses, special courtroom procedures that protect the rights of victims, witnesses, and defendants, scientific evidence, post-conviction and sentencing matters, and bond and discovery. Access the benchbook online at http://courts.michigan.gov/mji/resources/sabb/sabb.htm
Thanks to the NCVC (National Center for Victims of Crime www.ncvc.org) for alerting us about this about this resource.
 
For Law Enforcement: "First Response to Victims of Crime Who Have Disabilities"
 
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has released a new resource for law enforcement, entitled “First Response to Victims of Crime Who Have Disabilities.” The handbook was prepared by the National Sheriff’s Association, under a grant from the DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime, DOJ. Law enforcement professionals are offered guidance and tips on approaching and interacting in a sensitive and effective manner with victims who have Alzheimer's Disease, mental illness, mental retardation, or who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. The handbook also addresses two federal laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities-the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973-and includes a directory of service providers. The handbook (NCJ 195500) is available in its entirety online at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/infores/firstrep/2002/welcome.html.
 
National Directory of Sexual Assault Resources
 

A Directory of Projects Working to Eliminate Sexual Violence, a Project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center was published in May 2002. The 42-page resource directory represents an initial attempt to highlight the many national organizations and projects working to eliminate sexual violence.
 
Organizations were included if they significantly address some aspect of sexual violence and show a commitment to its elimination; be at least national in scope and have provided a description and signed permission prior to the deadline. The directory is alphabetical and cross-indexed by categories. A free copy can be obtained by contacting the NSVRC's toll free number (877) 739-3895, or by . Or, you can downloading the PDF file from http://www.nsvrc.org/newpubs.html Contact Barbara at bdwyer@nsvrc.org if you need assistance.

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  Promising Practices: Message From the Desk of the SATI Training Director
  By Joanne Archambault, Founder and Training Director, Sexual Assault Training & Investigations
     
  I recently had the honor to provide training for the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office in Delaware County, Ohio. W. Duncan Whitney has been the Prosecuting Attorney in that County since 1976. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Whitney has made the handling of sexual assault cases a priority, and his office is doing a great job. His training outline addresses vertical prosecution, the benefits of the Grand Jury, the difference between acquaintance and stranger sexual assault investigations and prosecution and investigative strategies to address those differences.
 
As I travel around the country, I hear many departments and communities question whether they can provide effective services for sexual assault victims in a rural community. Victims of sexual assault deserve professional services regardless of where they live. And the truth is, large city departments face at least as many challenges as do rural agencies. It’s just that they’re different challenges. Our programs have to be flexible to meet the needs of the individual community, no matter where we are located. Mr. Whitney's office is an example of how this can be done.
 
One of the practices that Mr. Whitney's office has been employing for many years involves the use of the polygraph with both suspects and survivors. At first mention, I felt the hair on my neck bristle as my memory reeled with the many horror stories I’ve heard over the years about how this practice has been abused by law enforcement. But Mr. Whitney's strategy deserves attention.
 
First, the polygraph is stipulated to in court. As a result, at least in Ohio, "the person administering the polygraph can be called as a witness by the State of Ohio to testify at Trial as an "expert" regarding all aspects of the test administered, and such testimony shall be offered and received as evidence in the trial without objections of any kind by any party to the agreement except as to the weight of the evidence." Inconclusive test results are not used.
 
Mr. Whitney states, "Stipulated polygraphs executed in court are very useful in properly settling an acquaintance sexual assault. Many times, the defendant will only take a polygraph if the survivor will also take one at the same time. When this is discussed with the survivor, they are often agreeable. Most defense attorneys will not allow the defendant to take a stipulated polygraph if the victim/survivor has already passed a polygraph or voice stress test. The offer of a polygraph is made in front of the defendant's significant other or wife, girlfriend, mother, etc. The offer is communicated to the defendant, and not just his attorney. This is done in court or at pretrial."
 
To ensure that the practice is not abused, Mr. Whitney's training outline states that law enforcement should not require, offer, or suggest that a victim/survivor take a polygraph or voice stress during the investigation stage. In addition to recognizing revictimization, Mr. Whitney explains that using this tool during the investigation stage will eliminate the proper use of a court stipulated polygraph after indictment and during the pre-trial stages.
 
As I travel the country, I continue to be surprised by the variations in evidence collection, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases based on nuances in state and local laws, cultural norms, financial and human resources and countless other factors. Because we work in a field where we are constantly responding to trauma, it is important to recognize the good work that is being done and celebrate our successes.
   
  For a list of upcoming conferences and training events, please view the Training Schedule.
   
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