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Evidence, Sexual Assaults, and Case Outcomes: Understanding the Role of Sexual Assault Kits, Non-Forensic Evidence, and Case Characteristics

Award Information

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Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $499,956)

This project seeks to provide sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), law enforcement, and prosecution with information about the role of sexual assault medical forensic exams (SAMFEs) and other case characteristics in achieving investigative and prosecutorial outcomes in sexual assault (SA) cases.
To accomplish this study, the Urban Institute (UI) will partner with three counties in New York: Monroe, Warren, and Schenectady to (1) Examine SA prosecution rates in cases involving female victims aged 12 and older between 1997 and 2012; (2) Conduct comprehensive reviews of 1,500 law enforcement and prosecution case files to identify which evidence and case characteristics predict case outcomes, with a focus on the role of SAMFEs; and (3) Contextualize case-level analyses via semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and focus groups with SA victims.
First, UI will collaborate with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services to obtain data on SAs from 1997-2012. This will include information about arrest, charges, and convictions. Next, UI will conduct case-level review of investigative and prosecutorial files. The research team will code files for case characteristics and evidence. Using either logistic regression or multinomial logistic regression, UI will predict case outcomes. Models will include independent variables of primary interest: evidence types, the presence or absence of a SAMFE, the presence or absence of DNA, stranger perpetrators versus not, and consent defenses versus not. They will also include other variables known to influence the likelihood of cases progressing through prosecution as controls. Finally, UI will collect qualitative data from interviews with multiple stakeholders and victims. Notes from stakeholder interviews and focus groups will be analyzed for keyword frequencies to identify common and unique themes among the discussions.ca/ncf

Date Created: September 8, 2013