This article in the February 2019 issue of TECHBeat presents an overview of and online access to the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence's (FTCoE's) three-part In-Brief series of reports on the importance of various types of physical evidence in sexual assault investigations.
"Part I: The Role of Physical Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations" identifies and discusses the relevance to sexual assault investigations of various types of physical evidence. These include physical injuries, such as bruising and lacerations; digital evidence, such as text messages, emails, and cellphone records; impression evidence, such as fingerprints and shoeprints; bedding and clothing; DNA; blood and body fluids; and toxicology. "Part II: The Role of Biological Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations" focuses on biological evidence that may be found on a sexual assault victim. This includes blood from injury or trauma, menstrual blood, saliva, semen, urine, and vaginal fluid. Such evidence can indicate that sexual or physical contact occurred, establish that force or restraint was used, support or refute victim testimony, or indicate physical location of the assault or perpetrator characteristics. "Part III: The Role of Toxicological Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations" indicates that toxicology testing detects the presence of drugs and toxins in blood, urine, or hair. This can assist in determining whether the victim was incapacitated or significantly impaired at the time of the sexual assault.