In nearly fifteen years as a detective in law enforcement I have handled several hundred if not thousands of claims of sexual assault. It is a real problem in society and true victims should not be discounted.
Another glaring truth is that sexual assault cases are difficult to investigate and even more so to prosecute. Out of the 127 reports of rape I investigated I was only able to make a solid case out of four. Three were some of the worst crimes I have ever seen and the other was a false report of rape that was so egregious I arrested the complainant.
Sexual assault investigations are hard because there is so much gray area, especially when the parties are known to each other either by dating or other social interaction. Many times the victim does make behavioral decisions that put them in a precarious situation. This is not victim blaming, but there is an entire field of study known as victimology that examines how a person’s behavior makes them more likely to be a victim of a crime.
Difficulties arising from the victim side are understandable, but from a legal perspective make prosecution hard. Such as waiting a great length of time report, not being honest about details, changing stories, etc.
The suspect obviously presents hardships as well, but usually their downfall is the stupidity of talking to me (the police) to begin with. I will not elaborate on difficulties presented on the part of the suspect because I do not want to give any perverts ideas.
The #MeToo movement has done some good by encouraging victims to come forward. Although, we must use caution in believing every accusation because some are rooted in regret or personal motive.
The real difficulty I have seen in prosecuting sexual assault cases is not the victim, suspect, law enforcement or the community. It is with the prosecutor and judge who fails to educate him/herself on the issue or allows bias to affect their decisions regarding the case.
A summary of the tree solid rape cases I made arrests on follows:
- The first was a 19 year old ago who was invited to her boyfriend’s birthday party. Upon arrival she realized that she was the only girl present in a house of 18-23 year old men. Long story short she was drugged, raped, and sodomized by three men. A fourth stole money out of car and removed the spark plugs to disable the vehicle in case she tried to run away. You may be thinking that these guys are all serving prison time, but you would be wrong. A spineless prosecutor pled the case down to misdemeanor sexual battery. They spent no time in jail and did not have to be placed on the sex offender registry.
- Next is a similar story of an 18 year old college student who was working to pay her way. A former high school friend who she had not seen in sometime proded her into attending a party at a location that unbeknownst to her was a drug house. She did not drive herself and did not know where she was. After most people in the house had passed out she was forcible raped and sodomized. The victim was a somewhat overweight person with many body insecurities that prevented her from letting herself date or have a boyfriend. She was a virgin. And believe me when I say that no one would want what occurred to be their first sexual experience. In this case the prosecutor outright dismissed charges for prosecutorial discretion. No explanation given even though we had positive DNA match from two areas. This story still makes me angry.
- The last is a mentally disabled lady who was sexually abused by her caretaker sister’s boyfriend. The prosecution was great on this one, but a terrible judge dismissed the case because the victim had extreme difficulty on the witness stand. A terrible injustice!
Yes, these cases are difficult. But if victims have the courage to come forward, then our justice system should have the courage to fight for them. I do not care if you are a running for office, a Fortune 500 CEO, or now Al Franken you deserve to be outed and prosecuted.