INTRODUCTION Sexual assaults have long been linked to the abuse of substances, primarily alcohol that may decrease inhibitions and render the victim incapacitated or physically helpless.
In addition to alcohol, the drugs most often implicated in the commission of drug- facilitated sexual assaults are GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine, Ecstasy, and Soma.
To facilitate a sexual assault, a drug is given to the victim secretly by the suspect, or the victim may take the drug recreationally. Because of the sedative effects, victims often have no memory of a sexual assault, only an awareness or sense that they were violated.
Over the last several years, reports of drug- facilitated rapes and sexual assaults have been increasing These cases present unique challenges to both police and prosecutors
In a drug-facilitated sexual assault, it may be difficult to detect the type of drug used. The drug is often secretly given to the victim. Each time the victim urinates, more of the drug is eliminated from the body.
By the time the victim realizes what happened, valuable time may have elapsed, making it difficult, if not impossible to detect.
More than once a minute, 78 times an hour, 1,871 times a day, someone in America is the victim of sexual assault
Unknown number are drug-facilitated Higher percentage may be unreported than rape in general Likely often missed due to: Delayed reporting issues Testing issues Lack of awareness of responders
As the preliminary reporting officer, you play a crucial role, especially in the preservation and collection of critical, perishable evidence.
Dispatcher or Call-Taker Response Due to the trauma of a sexual assault, a victim reaching out for assistance may be in crisis. Hysteria Crying Laughter Calmness There is no one typical reaction, so it is important to refrain from judging or disregarding any victim.
Dispatcher or Call-Taker Response When a caller reports a sexual assault the call taker shall: Prioritize Secure medical assistance Suspect current location if known Suspect relationship to the victim Weapon use History of violence
Dispatcher or Call-Taker Responses Ensure that critical evidence is not lost: 1. Ask whether the victim has bathed, douched, urinated, or made other physical changes and advise against doing so. 2. Ask the victim to use a clean jar to collect the urine should the victim have to urinate.
3. Let the victim know that other evidence may still be identified and recovered so the crime should still be reported if the victim has bathed or made other physical changes. 4. Preserve the communications tape and printout for the investigation. 5. Explain to the caller that these questions will not delay an officer’s response to the caller’s location.
Initial Officer Response 1. Make contact with the victim as soon as possible to address safety concerns and summon emergency medical assistance if needed.
Initial Officer Response 2. Evaluate the scene for people, vehicles, or objects involved as well as possible threats. 3. Relay all vital information to responding officers and supervisors, including any possible language barriers.
Initial Officer Response 4. Secure the crime scene to ensure that evidence is not lost, changed, or contaminated. 5. Contact Supervisor, request assistance from Detective McGuire, Evidence Tech G-13, S.P. ID unit. 6. Begin search for suspect when appropriate.
Assisting the Victim 1. Show understanding, patience, and respect for the victim’s dignity and attempt to establish trust and rapport. 2. Inform the victim that an officer of the same sex may be provided if desired and available.
Assisting the Victim 3. Contact a victim advocate as soon as possible to provide assistance throughout the reporting and investigation process. 4. Supply victims of sexual assault with the victim advocate information.
Assisting the Victim 5. Request a response from investigations, and clearly explain the investigators role. Limit the preliminary interview so that the victim is not then asked the same questions by a detective.
Assisting the Victim 6. Be aware that a victim if sexual assault may bond with the first responding officer. It is important to explain the role of the different members of the investigation and help transitions through introductions.
Assisting the Victim 7. Record observations of the crime scene, including the demeanor of the suspect and victim and document any injuries or disheveled clothing.
Evidence Collection Issues 1. Responding officers shall protect the integrity of the evidence and guard the chain of custody by properly marking, packaging, and labeling all evidence collected, including: Clothing worn at the time of the assault and immediately afterward, especially the clothing worn closest to the genitals (underwear, pants, and shorts). Sheets, towels, etc.
Evidence Collection Issues 2. When an investigating officer suspects that a sexual assault may have been facilitated with drugs, he or she should determine the time of the incident as soon as possible in order to make decisions regarding the collection of urine and blood samples.
Evidence Collection Issues 3. Officers shall introduce the need for a medical examination to the victim explaining the importance to investigative and apprehension efforts as well as for the victim’s well being. Officers shall not coerce victims to go to the hospital or to provide samples for drug screening.
Evidence Collection Issues 4. DNA evidence plays a crucial role in the sexual assault investigation. In addition to the victim’s and suspect’s bodies and clothing, there are many other potential sources such as: condoms, sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.
PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE If the sexual assault occurred within the last three days, advise the victim not to shower, bathe, urinate or otherwise alter her/his physical self, or engage in activity that may contaminate or destroy valuable evidence such as semen, saliva, hairs, ect.
PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE Thus, the victim should not; eat, drink, brush teeth, chew gum, smoke or gargle Do not criticize the victim if those things have already been done, simply ask that no further such actions be taken pending exam.
CLOTHING Advise the victim the hospital may need to collect her/his clothing if it was worn during and/or immediately after the assault. Recommend the victim either bring a change of clothing with her/him to the hospital, or have someone bring clothing to her/him.
Forensic Examinations A timely, professional forensic examination increases the likelihood that injuries will be documented and evidence collected to aid in the investigation and prosecution.
FORENSIC EXAMINATIONS Evidence may normally be collected up to 92 hours after the assault, but evidence can be gathered and injuries documented beyond that time, especially if the victim is injured.
Forensic Examinations 1. Ask the victim whether there is anyone who should be called or notified, and facilitate this contact. 2. Address any special needs of the victim, such as communication or mobility, and notify the victim advocate of the special need.
Forensic Examinations 3. Explain the purpose of the forensic examination and its importance to the investigation and provide the victim with information on the procedure. 4. Inquire whether the victim will consent to a forensic examination.
Forensic Examinations 5. Inform the victim of the right to decline any or all parts of the examination. 6. Explain to the victim the potential consequences if any part of the examination is refused.
Forensic Examinations 7. Notify a victim advocate to offer the victim support when a forensic examination is to be conducted. 8. Transport the victim to the designated medical facility if a forensic examination is warranted and the victim consents.
Forensic Examinations 9. Advise the victim that the forensic examiner will collect any clothing that was worn during or immediately after the sexual assault. 10. Assist in arranging for clothing the victim may need after the examination.
Forensic Examinations 11. Seek permission from the victim to collect a urine sample for drug-screening. 12. Obtain a signed release from the victim for access to medical records.
If a drug-facilitated sexual assault is suspected, it is critical to obtain a urine sample from the victim as soon as possible.
“Obtain a urine specimen as soon as possible. That means NOW, not after five hours of interviewing and more hours of waiting in a hospital emergency room”
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: The victim may remember little, if any, about the sexual assault. The victim’s account of the events may have many missing parts.
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: You must maintain an open mind while listening to the events as the victim recalls them. Remember: for these victims, telling what they recall is difficult and their uncertainty as to what occurred may cause them extreme anxiety.
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: Often, the perpetrator was a “trusted” acquaintance and the victim may feel the incident was somewhat her/his fault. Keep in mind: a victim whose memory is impaired due to the effect of a drug, may innocently and unconsciously seek facts to fill in the gaps in her/his memory.
Victim Interview: Don’t lead the victim-accuracy is crucial Victims may be confused, ashamed, embarrassed.
Victim Interview: Hear the victim’s story once through first Does the victim believe she was drugged? If so, how is this experience different from prior experiences with drugs/ alcohol?
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Victim Interview: Avoid “suggestive” questions while conducting the interview. It is very important to have the victim articulate how they felt or what they had been doing prior to losing consciousness.
Victim Interview: The victim will be looking for ways to fill gaps in memory Victim may adopt other’s interpretations as memories of her own
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES The victim may display any or all of the following symptoms: memory loss dizziness confusion drowsiness, slurred speech impaired motor skills impaired judgment reduced inhibition
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Witness Statements: Although the victim statement is crucial to the investigation, persons who saw the victim, or spoke to the victim, before, during and after assault are critical witnesses.
INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES Witness Statements: Often, it is such witnesses who establish time frames, notice unusual behavior, provide critical facts and can identify potential sources of information.
Suspect Interview Suspect isn’t necessarily confessing by admitting to having sex with the victim Ask how he knew the victim consented
Suspect Interview Must show the victim’s impairment and show that the suspect had knowledge of the victims helplessness: “Yeah, she was throwing up but she wanted to have sex with me”
More to interview: Interview anyone who saw the victim and suspect: Bartenders Waitresses Bouncers Parking lot attendants Friends
Sexual Assault Forensic Examination for the Suspect Determine if a forensic sexual assault examination should be obtained for the suspect. A Search warrant may be needed to collect evidence.
Search Warrants Search warrants are crucial in these cases Suspects home, work locker/ desk, car, gym locker, cell phone, etc. Search for: Drugs, packaging, photographs, videos, etc.
Search Warrant To identify and collect evidence such as: Photographs or videos (Mele) Victims possessions in the suspects home or vehicle Work with D.A.’s office to have templates available for such warrants
Investigation: Whenever possible, check both the location where the victim woke up and the location where the victim last remembers being present for any evidence and/ or witnesses. May have multiple crime scenes.
Investigations: Check trash cans anywhere near where drinks were being mixed or near where the victim and/ or suspect were sitting or in the restrooms Check for unexplained unmarked liquid containers or for remnants of narcotics packaging. May yield fingerprints in some situations.
Details to further the case: Sexual acts that were beyond the victim’s experience may support lack of consent, such as: Lack of contraception or protections from STD Failure to remove tampon prior to sex act Anal sex
Investigation Procedures: Not to be ignored: Email Voice-mails Surveillance cameras
Which Drug Was It? Let the drugs do the talking Each has its own signature/ indicators Match the symptoms to the scenario to determine drug class
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT The following drugs are listed and categorized to be easily recognized if seen. All of these drugs have hypnotic, sedative, CNS (central nervous system) depressive action. See Table
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT When mixed with alcohol, the drug’s effects are greatly enhanced These drugs may be packaged or concealed in prescription and/or vitamin bottles, bubble packs, or glass vials (liquids).
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT GHB GHB is a street manufactured drug, often found at underground “Rave” parties in the body building scene as a “steroid enhancer”. It is usually found in either of two forms: clear liquid or white powder.
GHB GHB is rapidly growing as a sexual assault problem because: It is easily mixed into a drink Hard for a victim to detect Leaves the system quickly Difficult for law enforcement to identify
GHB: Rave Crowd Club Crowd Bodybuilders Rapists Strippers/ dancers Anyone on random
Unique to GHB: Vomiting Rapid, high intoxication Out of body experience Sexually oriented behavior Aggression possible Behavior may look like PCP on occasion Seizure type movement Nystagmus (high dose)
Unique to GHB: Respiration very depressed (6 per min) Comatose No gag reflex 3-5 hours effects No antidote
Steroids & GHB Steroids and GHB go hand in hand Big issue among athletes of all levels and even casual gym goers No one testing for it Hard to get help, limited knowledge, very suicidal Can buy on the internet
Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB) GHB is a behavioral Central Nervous System depressant that can diminish a person’s concentration and impair physical coordination. Driving While Intoxicated on GHB can cause a driver to pass in and out of consciousness at the wheel.
GHB Officers should be alert when encountering female drivers and passengers intoxicated on GHB. Evaluate appearance, behavior, and condition of clothing, and consider the possibility that she may have been a victim of a sexual assault.
GHB Clothing missing, disheveled, or worn inside out, may be indicators of a sexual assault. Because GHB frequently causes partial or even total amnesia, victims may not be aware that they have been sexually assaulted.
GHB Because GHB can cause amnesia, an impaired victim may have little or no recall of events that occurred before and during a traffic stop, booking, and or accident. The victim may appear confused and have difficulty answering simple questions.
GHB At lower doses, GHB has a euphoric effect similar to alcohol intoxication, and can lower inhibitions and increase libido. It can also cause drowsiness, nausea, increased confidence, and dizziness.
GHB Higher doses can cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, seizure-like movements and confusion. It can also bring on respiratory failure, coma, or death.
GHB GHB coma is potentially life-threatening; transport or call for immediate medical treatment. One unique indicator of GHB can be episodes of dramatic brief loss of muscle control, ranging from a sudden head snap to a complete collapse to the ground and rapid recovery.
GHB Combining GHB with alcohol or another CNS depressant can intensify the effects and increase the risk of an overdose leading to respiratory failure and death. The effects of GHB may vary and causes different effects in different people.
GHB Effects typically begin from 5-30 minutes after ingestion and are typically resolved within four to eight hours.
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT Rohypnot Rohypnol is illegal in the United States, however, it can be legally purchased in other countries, including Mexico. Not noticed in dark drinks Takes longer to disolve
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT Ketamine Ketamine is an anesthetic used primarily for veterinary purposes but has recently become popular as an illicit street drug. It can be found in its veterinary pharmaceutical form (a liquid) or in a powdered form (resembling cocaine)
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT More than 40 drugs have been used to facilitate rape. Officers are also reminded that alcohol is the most common substance used to facilitate sexual assault and many of the investigative techniques noted in this training can be applied to assaults involving alcohol as well.
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT All drugs in the benzodiazepine class (Valium, Klonopins, Xanax, Ativan, Rohypnol, Halcion, etc.) have been used Sleeping pills such as Ambien, Sonata, etc., all also work and have been utilized.
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT Even over-the-counter products such as Benadryl (contains diphenydramine) have been used. All hallucinogens, including the drug Ecstasy are also considered rape or predatory drugs; while the effects don’t typically include sleepiness, unconsciousness or “intoxication” in the standard way, they do reduce inhibitions and/or render the victim unable to give or withhold consent.
DRUG TYPES MOST COMMONLY USED TO FACILITATE SEXUAL ASSAULT Internet References: Rxlist.com Pills.com Drugs.com