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Just Science Podcast: Just DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2023

This podcast episode discusses how large-scale data collection can provide a better understanding of sexual assault cases and improve sexual assault response practices, policy, and education.


In this first episode of Just Science Podcast’s 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini season, host Tyler Raible interviews Dr. Julie L. Valentine, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The two discuss data-driven practices for responding to sexual assault cases and the relationship between research and care provision, Dr. Valentine’s goals for developing best practices and public policy, and some of her specific research findings. The focus of the episode is Dr. Valentine’s role as one of the main researchers working at the intersection between forensic DNA and sexual assault kits, and how her research informs policy and practice associated with successfully collecting forensic DNA samples during a sexual assault medical exam. Dr. Valentine gives details about how the research is conducted and the primary data sources; trends that arise from the data and the types of outcomes that she is looking for, as well as the goals of the research; the importance of optimizing success for a DNA profile from a sexual assault case; how to ensure that evidence is effectively collected to increase the opportunity of obtaining usable DNA; the correlation between level of violence or aggression and the ability to obtain a CODIS-eligible DNA profile; the differences between biologically male and female victims, and the impacts of anatomy on the likelihood of developing CODIS-eligible profiles; and the definition of physical or mental impairments, and their effects on likelihood of sexual assault. Other aspects of Dr. Valentine’s research discussed in this podcast include the use of dating apps in sexual assault.

Date Published: April 1, 2023