This webinar is funded with an award from the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice to provide technical assistance specifically for front-line law enforcement professionals. In fact, the webinar is being held on a Sunday morning, which is typically a slower time for law enforcement, in the hopes that graveyard and first watch officers can participate. A future webinar will be scheduled at a time that will be more convenient for law enforcement professionals on the East Coast.
This webinar is approximately 60 minutes long.
Even when properly investigated, the majority of reported sexual assaults are not successfully prosecuted. Prosecutors often argue that police reports are severely lacking while law enforcement argues that prosecuting attorneys want a sure win. No matter how good an investigation is--the prosecuting attorney may not feel confident filing criminal charges if the reports are incomplete or inaccurate. Or if the prosecutor files charges, the defendant may be acquitted if the reports summarizing the investigation are poorly written.
Defense attorneys often win cases because they attack the credibility of the investigation and the perception of the victim's credibility, often with ammunition that comes from the investigator's own reports.
A good report is more than an accurate summary of the facts. A good report anticipates potential defense strategies and provides the information necessary to counter them.
This webinar is designed to help investigators write a report that will support successful prosecution. The session thus begins by outlining the many purposes of an investigator's report, and goes on to summarize some of the various techniques for effective report writing, such as:
- Recreating the reality of the sexual assault from the victim's perspective
- Preserving the exact words used by the victim
- Describing what the victim was thinking and feeling at the time of the sexual assault
- Using descriptive wording when accurate and appropriate
- Documenting the entire context of force, threat, or fear that the victim experienced
- Using the language of non-consensual sex and creating accurate "word pictures
- Documenting unique factors that affect the victim's experience, perspective, and response
- Summarizing the evidence and corroboration uncovered during the course of the investigation
- Exploring the benefits of recording victim's statements, for both the investigator and the victim
- Documenting suspect statements, especially those that corroborate the victim's account or provide an implausible or even absurd version of reality
Executive Director, End Violence Against Women International
Retired Sergeant, San Diego Police Department
Joanne Archambault is the Founder and Executive Director of EVAWI, as well as the President and Training Director of Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI), Inc. In April 2010, Joanne was honored by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for her decades of tireless work on behalf of sexual assault victims, with a prestigious National Crime Victims' Service Award for Allied Professionals. On October 27, 2010, Joanne was invited to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden for the first assembly on violence against women to ever be held at the White House.
Joanne began her career with the San Diego Police Department, working for almost 23 years in a wide range of assignments. She first worked as an officer in Patrol and then as a detective in Gangs, Child Abuse, and Crimes Against Persons. As a sergeant, she had assignments in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Sex Crimes. During the last ten years of her service, Joanne supervised the Sex Crimes Unit, which had 13 detectives and was responsible for investigating approximately 1,000 felony sexual assaults within the City of San Diego each year. Over the course of her career, she has written numerous articles and developed a wide range of training and policy materials, as well as serving on numerous national advisory boards.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K021 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.