DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Brad Natalizio Village of Chester Police Department 47 Main Street Chester, NY 10918
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INTRODUCTION Sexual assaults have long been linked to the abuse of substances, primarily alcohol that may decrease inhibitions and render the victim incapacitated or physically helpless.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS In addition to alcohol, the drugs most often implicated in the commission of drug-facilitated sexual assaults are GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine, Ecstasy, and Soma.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS To facilitate a sexual assault, a drug is given to the victim secretly by the suspect, or the victim may take the drug recreationally. Because of the sedative effects, victims often have no memory of a sexual assault, only an awareness or sense that they were violated.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Over the last several years, reports of drug-facilitated rapes and sexual assaults have been increasing These cases present unique challenges to both police and prosecutors
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS In a drug-facilitated sexual assault, it may be difficult to detect the type of drug used. The drug is often secretly given to the victim. Each time the victim urinates, more of the drug is eliminated from the body.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS By the time the victim realizes what happened, valuable time may have elapsed, making it difficult, if not impossible to detect.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS More than once a minute, 78 times an hour, 1,871 times a day, someone in America is the victim of sexual assault
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS • Unknown number are drug-facilitated • Higher percentage may be unreported than rape in general • Likely often missed due to: Delayed reporting issues Testing issues Lack of awareness of responders
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS CASE Toledo Free Press Article
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS As the preliminary reporting officer, you play a crucial role, especially in the preservation and collection of critical, perishable evidence.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Dispatcher or Call-Taker Response Due to the trauma of a sexual assault, a victim reaching out for assistance may be in crisis. • Hysteria • Crying • Laughter • Calmness There is no one typical reaction, so it is important to refrain from judging or disregarding any victim.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Dispatcher or Call-Taker Response When a caller reports a sexual assault the call taker shall: • Prioritize • Secure medical assistance • Suspect current location if known • Suspect relationship to the victim • Weapon use • History of violence
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Dispatcher or Call-Taker Responses Ensure that critical evidence is not lost: • Ask whether the victim has bathed, douched, urinated, or made other physical changes and advise against doing so. • Ask the victim to use a clean jar to collect the urine should the victim have to urinate.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS 3. Let the victim know that other evidence may still be identified and recovered so the crime should still be reported if the victim has bathed or made other physical changes. 4. Preserve the communications tape and printout for the investigation. 5. Explain to the caller that these questions will not delay an officer’s response to the caller’s location.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Initial Officer Response 1. Make contact with the victim as soon as possible to address safety concerns and summon emergency medical assistance if needed.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Initial Officer Response 2. Evaluate the scene for people, vehicles, or objects involved as well as possible threats. 3. Relay all vital information to responding officers and supervisors, including any possible language barriers.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Initial Officer Response 4. Secure the crime scene to ensure that evidence is not lost, changed, or contaminated. 5. Contact Supervisor, request assistance from Detective McGuire, Evidence Tech G-13, S.P. ID unit. 6. Begin search for suspect when appropriate.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Assisting the Victim • Show understanding, patience, and respect for the victim’s dignity and attempt to establish trust and rapport. • Inform the victim that an officer of the same sex may be provided if desired and available.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Assisting the Victim 3. Contact a victim advocate as soon as possible to provide assistance throughout the reporting and investigation process. 4. Supply victims of sexual assault with the victim advocate information.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Assisting the Victim 5. Request a response from investigations, and clearly explain the investigators role. Limit the preliminary interview so that the victim is not then asked the same questions by a detective.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Assisting the Victim 6. Be aware that a victim if sexual assault may bond with the first responding officer. It is important to explain the role of the different members of the investigation and help transitions through introductions.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Assisting the Victim 7. Record observations of the crime scene, including the demeanor of the suspect and victim and document any injuries or disheveled clothing.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Evidence Collection Issues 1. Responding officers shall protect the integrity of the evidence and guard the chain of custody by properly marking, packaging, and labeling all evidence collected, including: Clothing worn at the time of the assault and immediately afterward, especially the clothing worn closest to the genitals (underwear, pants, and shorts). Sheets, towels, etc.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Evidence Collection Issues 2. When an investigating officer suspects that a sexual assault may have been facilitated with drugs, he or she should determine the time of the incident as soon as possible in order to make decisions regarding the collection of urine and blood samples.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Evidence Collection Issues 3. Officers shall introduce the need for a medical examination to the victim explaining the importance to investigative and apprehension efforts as well as for the victim’s well being. Officers shall not coerce victims to go to the hospital or to provide samples for drug screening.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Evidence Collection Issues 4. DNA evidence plays a crucial role in the sexual assault investigation. In addition to the victim’s and suspect’s bodies and clothing, there are many other potential sources such as: condoms, sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE If the sexual assault occurred within the last three days, advise the victim not to shower, bathe, urinate or otherwise alter her/his physical self, or engage in activity that may contaminate or destroy valuable evidence such as semen, saliva, hairs, ect.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE Thus, the victim should not; eat, drink, brush teeth, chew gum, smoke or gargle Do not criticize the victim if those things have already been done, simply ask that no further such actions be taken pending exam.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS CLOTHING Advise the victim the hospital may need to collect her/his clothing if it was worn during and/or immediately after the assault. Recommend the victim either bring a change of clothing with her/him to the hospital, or have someone bring clothing to her/him.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations A timely, professional forensic examination increases the likelihood that injuries will be documented and evidence collected to aid in the investigation and prosecution.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS FORENSIC EXAMINATIONS Evidence may normally be collected up to 92 hours after the assault, but evidence can be gathered and injuries documented beyond that time, especially if the victim is injured.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations • Ask the victim whether there is anyone who should be called or notified, and facilitate this contact. • Address any special needs of the victim, such as communication or mobility, and notify the victim advocate of the special need.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations 3. Explain the purpose of the forensic examination and its importance to the investigation and provide the victim with information on the procedure. 4. Inquire whether the victim will consent to a forensic examination.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations 5. Inform the victim of the right to decline any or all parts of the examination. 6. Explain to the victim the potential consequences if any part of the examination is refused.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations 7. Notify a victim advocate to offer the victim support when a forensic examination is to be conducted. 8. Transport the victim to the designated medical facility if a forensic examination is warranted and the victim consents.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations 9. Advise the victim that the forensic examiner will collect any clothing that was worn during or immediately after the sexual assault. 10. Assist in arranging for clothing the victim may need after the examination.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Forensic Examinations 11. Seek permission from the victim to collect a urine sample for drug-screening. 12. Obtain a signed release from the victim for access to medical records.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAUT INVESTIGATIONS If a drug-facilitated sexual assault is suspected, it is critical to obtain a urine sample from the victim as soon as possible.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS “Obtain a urine specimen as soon as possible. That means NOW, not after five hours of interviewing and more hours of waiting in a hospital emergency room”
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: The victim may remember little, if any, about the sexual assault. The victim’s account of the events may have many missing parts.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: You must maintain an open mind while listening to the events as the victim recalls them. Remember: for these victims, telling what they recall is difficult and their uncertainty as to what occurred may cause them extreme anxiety.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: Often, the perpetrator was a “trusted” acquaintance and the victim may feel the incident was somewhat her/his fault. Keep in mind: a victim whose memory is impaired due to the effect of a drug, may innocently and unconsciously seek facts to fill in the gaps in her/his memory.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Victim Interview: • Don’t lead the victim-accuracy is crucial • Victims may be confused, ashamed, embarrassed.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIOINS Victim Interview: Hear the victim’s story once through first Does the victim believe she was drugged? If so, how is this experience different from prior experiences with drugs/ alcohol?
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: Avoid “suggestive” questions while conducting the interview. It is very important to have the victim articulate how they felt or what they had been doing prior to losing consciousness.
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS Victim Interview: • The victim will be looking for ways to fill gaps in memory • Victim may adopt other’s interpretations as memories of her own
DRUG FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATIONS INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES The victim may display any or all of the following symptoms: • memory loss • dizziness • confusion • drowsiness, • slurred speech • impaired motor skills • impaired judgment • reduced inhibition