This webinar, presented by members of the Houston Police Department, describes the cultural shift that occurred within the Houston Police Department over the last two and a half years as a result of a grant from the National Institute of Justice to examine the issue of untested evidence in sexual assaults. The paradigm shift took more than training or revised protocols, but resulted in the integration of stakeholder services and a renewed focus on victims’ needs; both which improve sexual assault investigations and outcomes for victims. This webinar will highlight the creation of the justice advocate position and the victim notification project as two components that clearly contributed to the culture change.
In 2009, over 11,300 untested rape kits were discovered in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, a two and one-half year project was begun to determine why the kits went untested and to develop strategies for preventing this type of crisis from reoccurring.Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor will discuss why the kits went untested for decades and the importance of utilizing a victim-centered approach when notifying victims that their case has been re-opened. In addition, she will provide insights into the investigative process and what prosecutors need to successfully charge and convict offenders in cold case sexual assaults. Any doubts as to the value of testing older rape kits will be quickly dispelled by the project results which have already resulted in the identification of numerous serial offenders.
Research on so-called “undetected” rapists – men who commit rapes but who are either not reported or not prosecuted for their crimes – has clearly demonstrated that the old stereotypes about rapists are false. Undetected rapists, who represent the vast majority of rapists, and account for the vast majority of rapes, use extensive planning, often use alcohol and other drugs to render their victims vulnerable, and rely on minimal force to threaten and intimidate their victims into submission. A majority of these rapists are serial offenders, and the evidence suggests that they typically begin their offending careers during adolescence. Evidence also indicates that serial offenders account for more than 90% of all rapes. These data underscore the potential importance of testing non -stranger sexual assault kits and maintaining DNA databases derived from the processing of rape kits.Presenter: David LisakDr. David Lisak is a researcher and forensic consultant who for 25 years has studied the causes and consequences of interpersonal violence. His work has focused on the long term effects of sexual abuse in men, the relationship between child abuse and violence, and the motives and characteristics of rapists. Dr. Lisak has served as a consultant to judicial, prosecutor and law enforcement education programs across the country, and has conducted workshops in all fifty states. He consults widely with universities, the four services of the U.S. Military, the Department of Defense, and other institutions regarding sexual assault prevention and policies, and frequently serves as an expert witness in homicide and sexual assault cases. Dr. Lisak is a founding member of 1in6, a non-profit agency that serves men who were sexually abused as children.
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