A total sample of 144 sexual assault complainants reporting to four clinics in different parts of the United States anonymously provided urine and hair specimens in order to test for 45 drugs capable of reducing impaired judgment and thus their ability to consent to sexual contact.
In the sample, just over 43 percent of the women could be classified as having ingested a drug within a 72 hour period that could have impaired their ability to give consent to sexual contact. Researchers could not estimate the proportion of involuntary drugging compared to voluntary drug ingestion of complainants, because these estimates necessarily depend on history and self-reporting by the complainants. Limitations on the ability to detect certain drugs within the time window and the evident underreporting of actual drug use by complainants on a questionnaire made self-reporting an unreliable measure of voluntary drug use. Data from a representative sample of six cases are presented in order to illustrate the complexities of interpreting history and toxicological findings in an effort to identify drug-facilitated sexual assaults. Subject enrollment began on January 1, 2002, and ended on March 31, 2004. Subjects enrolled in the study presented to the clinics with a complaint of having been sexually assaulted. Subjects agreed to furnish a urine specimen at the time of enrollment and an additional urine specimen plus a hair specimen 5-7 days later. They also agreed to answer a brief questionnaire about drug and alcohol use, suspected drugging prior to the alleged sexual assault, time elapsed since the sexual assault, and their ages. The 45 drugs for which testing was done included ethanol and those drugs pharmacologically capable of inducing sedation, amnesia, or impaired judgment. 5 tables and 25 references
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