Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Seeking Justice with DNA

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers explore how DNA evidence can enhance sexual violence investigations and prosecutions, including cases in which the offender is known. They discuss how DNA can uncover serial and cross-over offenders, advanced technologies in the field of DNA forensics, and how to admit DNA evidence and expert testimony at trial.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Describe how DNA evidence can illustrate the dangerousness of offenders
– Admit expert testimony to present DNA evidence and educate the jury
– Link the offender to the victim and crime scene through DNA evidence

Additional resources related to this episode:
DNA 101 – Mixtures, Statistics, and Methodologies: Science and Application to Investigation and Prosecution
DNA Testing, Workflow, Collaboration, and Options
Advancing Justice with Case Review and Informed Strategies for DNA Testing

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Capturing the Totality of the Sexually-Violent Offender

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Jenn Dolle discuss crimes that commonly co-occur with sexual violence. They also discuss how prosecutors can assess cases to make approach charging decisions and how additional charges may enhance offender accountability as well as the safety of victims and communities.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Recognize that crimes of sexual violence commonly co-occur with other offenses
– Evaluate evidence and case dynamics to make appropriate charging decisions
– Ensure offenders are prosecuted for the full scope of their criminal activity

Additional resources related to this episode:
Responding to Stalking: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Stalking
– Just Exits Initiative
Prosecuting Image Exploitation
The Prosecutors’ Resource on Witness Intimidation

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Jonathan Kurland explore how to analyze and prosecute cases of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault. They discuss how toxicology experts can provide invaluable insight into the nature of the assault, corroborate and explain other evidence, and help prosecutors combat common defenses at trial.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Work with experts to explain the measurement and analysis of intoxicating substances and prescription medications present in a person’s body or to explain their absence
– Recognize offender premeditation and predatory conduct regarding alcohol
– Collaborate with allied professionals to build a victim-centered response that incorporates offender-focused strategies

Additional resources related to this episode:
– Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Who Needs Force When You Have Alcohol? Parts 1 and 2 (webinars)
Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault: A Survey of the Law (article)
– Prosecuting Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault (publication)
– Alcohol Toxicology for Prosecutors (publication)

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Not Just a Box to Check: Building Trust and Rapport

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor John Wilkinson discuss the importance of building trust and rapport with victims of sexual violence and how this process can improve both case outcomes and victims’ sense of justice. They also discuss important conversations prosecutors should have with victims, strategies for overcoming challenges to building trust, and what to do if trust-building strategies do not initially work.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Assess victim needs and provide meaningful access to appropriate services
– Communicate effectively with victims at all stages of a case
– Improve victim disclosures

Additional resources related to this episode:
First, Do No Harm: Facilitating a Trauma-Informed Response
Integrating a Trauma-Informed Response in Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking Prosecutions
First, Do No Harm: Trauma-Informed Interviewing During the COVID Pandemic

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Collaboration is Key: Working with Victim Service Professionals

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Jonathan Kurland discuss the benefits of collaboration with victim service professionals in sexual violence cases. They discuss the questions prosecutors can ask to better understand the roles and responsibilities of victim service professionals in their communities, common tension points, and how collaboration can be strengthened to enhance the case as well as victims’ safety and healing.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Enhance collaboration with victim service professionals
– Provide survivors with meaningful access to appropriate victim services
– Ethically protect victim privacy

Additional resources related to this episode:
Presence of Victim Advocate During Sexual Assault Exam: Summary of State Laws
To Record or Not To Record: Use of Body-Worn Cameras During Police Response to Crimes of Violence Against Women
Benefits of a Coordinated Community Response to Sexual Violence

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: Collaboration is Key: Working with Law Enforcement

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor John Wilkinson explain how collaboration with law enforcement and other key stakeholders is key to a victim-centered approach, identifies intersections between prosecutors and law enforcement, and discusses how to turn potential conflicts with law enforcement into opportunities for strengthened collaboration.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Identify opportunities to enhance collaboration with law enforcement
– Identify and address possible areas of conflict
– Increase victim safety and participation by demonstrating a holistic approach

Additional resources related to this episode:
Model Response to Sexual Violence for Prosecutors (RSVP) Volume I: An Invitation to Lead, § 3.1-B.1 (Communicate Regularly and Meaningfully With Investigators)
To Record or Not To Record: Use of Body-Worn Cameras During Police Response to Crimes of Violence Against Women
Body-Worn Cameras and Gender-Based Violence: Practical Considerations from the Prosecution Perspective

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: The Trauma-Informed Prosecutor

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers explore how trauma affects a survivor of sexual violence, including their behaviors, their ability to disclose and recount details of the assault, and their ability to participate in the prosecution of the offender. They also discuss how prosecutors can utilize trauma-informed strategies to establish rapport with victims and to elicit details of the assault, as well as considerations for when victims are ultimately unable to participate in prosecution. 

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Recognize trauma and its effects
– Implement trauma-informed practices to support victim participation
– Conduct trauma-informed interviews and direct examinations

Additional resources related to this episode:
Integrating a Trauma-Informed Response in Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking Prosecutions 
Enhancing Conviction Integrity through Forensics Webinar — Achieving Justice at Trial: Direct Examination of Victims of Violent Crimes
Enhancing Conviction Integrity through Forensics Webinar: Advancing Justice: Interviewing and Presenting Testimony of Victims of Violent Crimes

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Foundations of Sexual Violence Prosecutions: The Perfect Plan: Accessibility, Vulnerability, and Perceived Lack of Credibility

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting sexual violence cases. In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting sexual violence. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Jonathan Kurland explore how offenders target, access, and assault their victims, as well as how they use victims’ vulnerabilities to escape accountability. They also discuss how prosecutors can reframe the narrative at trial to maximize accountability for offenders and seek justice for victims.

At the conclusion of this episode, viewers will be better able to:
– Identify and collect evidence of the offender’s predatory behavior
– Develop an offender-focused theme and theory
– Recreate the reality of the crime at trial

Additional resources related to this episode:
Model Response to Sexual Violence for Prosecutors (RSVP Model)
Overcoming the Consent Defense: Prosecuting Known Offenders
The Prosecutors’ Resource on Sexual Violence Cases Involving Victims with Intellectual Disabilities

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

Not Just a Credibility Contest: Sexual Violence Prosecutions That Go Beyond “Offender Said, Victim Said”

Sexual violence cases are often mistakenly reduced to a contest of credibility between the victim’s disclosure and the offender’s denial. Even though jurisdictions do not require corroboration of the victim’s testimony at trial, jurors may find it difficult to convict a defendant absent additional evidence. While crimes of sexual violence typically do not occur in front of other individuals, there are always witnesses and evidence to corroborate what happened before, during, and after the assault. By presenting the full scope of admissible evidence, prosecutors will increase the likelihood of success at trial while reducing the burden on victims.

This presentation addresses strategies and tactics to understand and explain victim disclosures through a trauma-informed lens; utilize victim behavior experts to educate fact-finders about the range of victim responses to sexual violence; and examine offender characteristics, motivations, and behaviors, as well as the impact of the offender’s actions on the victim. The presenter suggests strategies for overcoming common misconceptions at trial, including establishing a compelling trial theme, introducing evidence of the defendant’s predatory behavior, presenting corroborating evidence to support witness credibility, and recreating the reality of the crime for the jury.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Maintain focus on the offender.
-Support victim and witness credibility with corroborating evidence.
-Develop and present expert testimony to explain victim behavior. -Recreate the reality of the crime at trial.

Justice Systems from a Child’s Perspective: Supporting Young Trafficking Survivors

This webinar highlights the Center for Court Innovation’s (CCI) Child Witness Materials Development Project, an initiative funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and a partner project of AEquitas. In 2021, OVC published a package of support materials for child victims and witnesses of crime that CCI had created, and in January 2022, OVC published an additional package of interactive support materials specifically for youth who have experienced human trafficking. A multidisciplinary group of national trafficking experts with professional and and lived experience contributed to the design and development of these materials.

In this webinar, participants learn more about how young trafficking survivors experience the justice system, and how they can address youth’s needs and provide developmentally-appropriate information and emotional support. Participants learn how to effectively use the Child Witness materials in their roles so youth feel more informed and empowered as they navigate their own healing process in addition to navigating the system.