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September 22, 2017-Challenging Victims: The Delicate Dynamics of Drug and Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault

Sexual assault, especially non-stranger assaults in alcohol and drug-fueled settings often involve some of the most difficult and delicate case dynamics when it comes to working with victims and witnesses.  Successful collaboration between investigators, victim witness advocates, and prosecutors is essential to gaining victim trust, and maintaining victim cooperation throughout the length of the case.  This presentation will detail best practices involved in making initial victim contact, collaboration between prosecutors and investigators, interviewing victims prior to the charging decision, requesting additional follow-up by investigators, and using expert witnesses to explain victim-perpetrator dynamics in sexual assault cases.  The presenters will also discuss how alcohol can affect the way a victim behaves during and after the assault, can impair memory, and the challenges often inherent in victim statements, including inconsistencies, omissions, and untruths. They will describe strategies for increasing the accuracy of a victim's statement-which is often a significant issue when the sexual assault was preceded by a night of overindulgence by both the victim and perpetrator.