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Sexual Assault Cases: Exploring the Importance of Non-DNA Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
9 pages
Publication Series
This article explains why and how non-DNA evidence is important in sexual assault cases, particularly when consent between acquaintances is an issue and when DNA evidence is not available.
A sexual assault case featured in this article involved a non-consensual sexual attack by a former boyfriend who claimed that the sex was consensual, such that the presence of DNA from his semen was irrelevant to the central issue of consent and the truth of the conflicting accounts of the attacker and the victim regarding what occurred. A medical exam of the woman following the sexual assault showed there was no alcohol in her system; she had cuts, bruises, and tears to her body and genitals; and her clothing was torn and a pants zipper broken. Toxicology results showed that the suspect had consumed the drug called ecstasy, which is known to produce increased energy, pleasure, and distorted sensory and time perception. The investigation also revealed that the suspect had sent victim text messages in the days after the assault, although he denied having done so. Thus, evidence other than DNA can enable investigators to recreate a series of events; corroborate or refute testimony of the victim, suspect, or other witnesses; and include or exclude potential suspects. The article also notes that when no DNA is found due to a rapist having used a condom, the identification of a distinctive lubricant used with the condom may be traced to the offender. Other important non-DNA evidence in sexual assault cases is discussed. Data are provided from research that shows the high percentage of sexual assault cases in which no DNA evidence was found. 2 exhibits and online access to related resources

Date Published: November 1, 2017