Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape
This webinar is approximately 90 minutes long.
Starting in 2013, the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, Ohio) Sexual Assault Kit Task Force began investigating and prosecuting cases from approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs from 1993 to 2009. In the Fall of 2014, The Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education was approached by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office (CCPO) for the purposes of understanding more about these unsubmitted SAKs. Funded by the CCPO, the researcher team was given access to the SAK case files, and they coded a random sample of 243 sexual assaults case files with completed investigations that either resulted in prosecution or were not pursued due to insufficient evidence.
This webinar will detail key findings from this research study and discuss how these findings are being used to inform and reform how sexual assaults are investigated and prosecuted. Topics include:
- Characteristics of the victims and offenders
- Similarities and differences between sex offenders who are connected with one sexual assault versus more than one (serial offenses)
- Offending patterns for serial sex offenders, stranger sexual assaults, multiple offender sexual assaults, and captivity sexual assaults
- An exploration of what happened with sexual assault cases "then vs. now"
- Victim "vulnerabilities" and their impact on prosecutorial outcomes
- Cost savings of testing previously unsubmitted kits
Following the webinar, participants will be better able to:
- Recognize the complex issues surrounding unsubmitted SAKs
- Identify the research methods employed in this study
- Evaluate how sexual assaults are processed through the criminal justice system (e.g., what happens with a sexual assault report)
- Appreciate why an examination of the sexual assault kit case files provides greater insight into victims, offenders, and offending patters
- Recognize how research findings can be employed to inform and improve current practice
Rachel Lovell, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University; Co-Lead Researcher on the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Research Study
Rachel Lovell, PhD, is sociologist and methodologist who studies gender-based violence and victimization, in particular sexual assault, human sex trafficking and sex work, and intimate partner violence. Her current research involves examining issues pertaining to the unsubmitted sexual assault kits in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and specialized dockets for human trafficking victims. She is a Senior Research Associate at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Lovell received her Ph.D. in sociology from The Ohio State University in 2007. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Brett Kyker, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office; Supervisor, Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force
Brett Kyker is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office. Since joining the Office in June 2004, he has worked in several units, including the Children and Family Services Unit, the Juvenile Justice Unit, the General Felony Unit, the Major Trial Unit, and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit. In December 2014, APA Kyker took over as Project Manager of the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, a team of investigators, law enforcement officers, assistant prosecuting attorneys, and victim advocates assembled to address a backlog of untested sexual assault kits and prosecute offenders for sexual assaults dating back to the early 1990s. He is a graduate of John Carroll University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 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.