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Criminal Justice Close-Up: Sex Crimes Prosecution

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This is an interview with Linda Fairstein, Chief, Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit, Manhattan District Attorney's Office, on the topic of rape.
Ms. Fairstein discusses changes in rape laws and apprehension and prosecution of rapists. Through the mid-70s, rape victims did not testify in proceedings against offenders, and offenders could not be convicted solely on the word of the victim; corroborative evidence was always needed. As a result of feminist agitation and grass-roots lobbying the situation has changed and victims can now play meaningful roles in legal proceedings. In addition, there has been significant growth in the availability and variety of rape victim services. These services include wide use of evidence gathering kits, more sophisticated use of DNA testing, and creation of specially trained police units to prosecute sex crimes. Ms. Fairstein discusses the similarities and differences between rapists and child molesters, patterns of offending, recidivist predictions, the ongoing debate over "Megan's Law" application, and the consequences of the mistaken idea that acquaintance rape is not as serious as stranger rape. She urges rape victims to be pro-active, to report the incident as quickly as possible, get to a hospital or physician, and take advantage of the victim services now available.


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