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SATI e-News Archambault Consulting
December 7, 2007 Newsletter

In this issue:

Sexual Assault News

Emerging Technology

Legislative News

Forensic News

Promising Practices:  From the Desk of the Training Director

Job Openings


Sexual Assault News

 Trial in Case of Rape/Murder of College Student Results in Hung Jury
 
Ten months after an Eastern Michigan University (EMU) freshman was found raped and strangled in her dorm room, a judge ordered a mistrial for the man charged with the crime after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors said Laura Dickinson was sleeping the night of December 13, 2006 when fellow student Orange Taylor entered her room, raped her and smothered her with a pillow. A surveillance video shows him leaving with some of her property. Authorities also allegedly matched DNA found on Dickinson's body to samples from Taylor.
 
Taylor initially claimed he was not present in her room. Once the surveillance tape was produced, he admitted to breaking in to steal entertainment equipment. While Taylor did not take the stand, one of his defense attorneys attributed her death to natural causes in remarks to the jury, claiming that Dickinson was already dead when Taylor entered the room and masturbated on the body, accounting for the semen. A new trial is set for January 28, 2008.
 
Also of note in the case is the university’s response. Police reports indicated from the start that her death was considered a homicide as the victim’s body was found lying face-up, covered with a pillow and nude from the waist down. However, EMU’s communications department issued a press release the next day stating that there was “no reason to suspect foul play” and continued to mislead the university community for two months, according to Court TV News. An investigation found the university to be in violation of the Clery Act, a federal law requiring school officials to inform the campus community of possible homicides in a "timely and appropriate" manner. As a result, EMU president James Fallon, public safety director Cindy Hall and vice president of student affairs Jim Vick lost their jobs.
 
“Trial Opens for Michigan Man Accused in College Student’s Death,” Court TV News, October 16, 2007.
 
"Judge declares mistrial in case of man accused of suffocating college student in her dorm room,” Court TV News, October 24, 2007.
 
“Dorm murder defendant was in woman's room, but didn't kill or try to rape her, lawyer says,” Court TV News, October 16, 2007.

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Federal Court Decision Allows Ban of Rape Terminology from Courtroom
 
In the last issue of SATI e-News we reported about the Nebraska judge who granted the defense motion to ban the term “rape” from the courtroom in the criminal trial of Pamir Safi (Judge Bans Language of Rape from Courtroom,” June 28, 2007). Judge Jeffre Cheuvront said he banned the language because he considered it prejudicial and that it jeopardized Safi's right to a fair trial. As a result, the defense, prosecution and even the victim herself had to use the word “sex” to refer to the crime.
 
In an update to the case, a Nebraska federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the judge brought by the victim, Victoria (Tory) Bowen, 24 (Bowen has allowed her name to be used publicly because of the issue over the judge's language restrictions). Bowen asserted in her complaint that the trial judge violated her free speech rights by barring the words in the rape trial of Safi last November. U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf found that Brown did not provide enough evidence to support her claim. Kopf also said he was concerned that the purpose of Bowen's lawsuit was to force the trial judge to recuse himself from the criminal case, which is still ongoing.  [read more]

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Plans Underway for Launch of 5th National Stalking Awareness Month

January 2008 will mark the fifth observance of National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM). The event is intended to focus attention on this serious and deadly crime, which victimizes more than one million women and nearly 400,000 men in the United States each year.
 
The Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) is inviting advocates from around the country to help raise awareness by distributing materials, working with public officials on proclamations, holding events, contacting local media, and organizing other local activities that raise awareness about this dangerous crime.
 
To support these efforts, The Stalking Resource Center is making available on its Web site  downloadable materials including posters, a victim brochure, a stalking fact sheet, "top ten things you should know about stalking" flyer, and a sample proclamation and resolution to use at the municipal, county, or state level. The Web site includes a map displaying activities planned in communities across the country.
 
Also, the NCVC has also developed a training video  for law enforcement on effective responses to stalking, which is available for viewing online.
 
Source: National Center for Victims of Crime

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Emerging Technology

 Mobile GPS Technology Intended to Prevent Child Abduction
 

AmberWatch Mobile is a new technology under development which is intended to turn everyday cell phones into an effective safety tool. The AmberWatch software will provide Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking capabilities to wireless phones and handheld devices to help keep wireless consumers and their families safe from harm. [read more]

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Legislative News

International Violence Against Women Act Introduced in Congress
 
Thirteen years after passage of the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States, the Senator who was chief sponsor of the bill is working to take the initiative global. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), a long-time advocate for women’s rights and recipient of the 2002 End Violence Against Women (EVAW) International Visionary Award introduced the International Violence Against Women Act in November of this year.
 
Less than a month after the bill was introduced there was an international outcry about the case of a rape victim who was sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months imprisonment by a Saudi Court. Senator Biden made a public appeal to King Abdullah to overturn the Court’s sentence. He also noted how the case underscores the importance of the International VAWA. Biden said in his statement, “this decision is a startling reminder that around the globe women and girls are subjected to brutal violence and too often are victimized a second time for coming forward. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen a sea change in societal attitudes and the judicial system towards the crime of rape. Similar reform is necessary internationally.” [read more]

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Michigan Bill Would Use Criminal Fines to Help Fund Rape Exams

As federal funds dry up, officials are starting to look for other revenue sources to support victim services. One such measure under consideration in Michigan would support the use of trained forensic nurse examiners to conduct rape exams. The bill would increase criminal fines and utilize a portion of the funds to support SANE programs, according to the Detroit Free Press. Known as the Sexual Assault Victims' Medical Forensic Act, the legislation was unanimously passed by the Michigan House of Representatives in October of this year and awaits action by the state Senate Judiciary Committee. [read more]

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Forensic News

Probe of Massachusetts Crime Lab Spurs Analysis of Thousands of Rape Kits.

An independent investigation of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Crime Lab conducted earlier this year helped focus attention on 4,000 unprocessed rape kits. The investigation was initiated after officials learned in January that a lab administrator failed to alert prosecutors that he had matched DNA samples to suspects before the statute of limitations had run out in 27 cases, including fourteen sexual assaults according to the Boston Globe. As a result, criminal charges could not be brought against the identified suspects in those cases. Since the story broke, the administrator of the lab’s DNA database was fired and both the head of the crime lab and the state’s top forensic official who supervised the crime lab resigned under pressure, according to the Boston Globe. [read more]

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Investigator Concludes Lengthy Review of Houston Crime Lab
 
Two years after Michael Bromwich was hired to lead an independent review of Houston’s Crime Lab, the former U.S. Justice Department inspector issued his final report and recommendations. The Bromwich investigation covered a 25-year period, included more than 100 interviews, and involved the review of more than 3,500 forensic science cases analyzed by the Lab.
 
The investigation was prompted by a public outcry following an investigative media report in the Fall of 2002 which identified significant discrepancies. Findings over the course of the investigation led to the release of two men from prison, one who had served 17 years for a rape that new forensic tests show he did not commit.  [read more]

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DNA News From Around the Country
 
The following DNA summary is provided by DNA Resource Report (www.dnaresource.com):
 

In California, the state has entered 295,000 DNA samples into its database since July, officials said, eliminating a backlog that once numbered nearly 400,000. The number of people eligible to be entered into the system has more than tripled since voters passed Proposition 69 in 2004. The initiative required that all convicted felons submit a DNA sample, creating a huge backlog. The database will grow in 2009, when the proposition mandates that all adults arrested for a felony enter their DNA into the system.
 
Source:
“DNA database’s backlog eliminated.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 2007.

 
In Washington state, prompted by the July kidnapping and slaying of a 12-year-old from Tacoma, Gov. Christine Gregoire is recommending changes to how the state tracks convicted sex offenders, including requiring all to have DNA on file with police. Gregoire made the recommendations Monday on a preliminary report by a Sex Offender Task Force created to look into the girl’s death and the man accused of her slaying. Typically, police consider Level 1 offenders a low priority and, although the state law requires them to register their address with police, violations aren't always followed up on. “If we had a DNA sample of the predator on file from another 1990 incident we may have been able somewhere at some point along the way here to have arrested him and prevented his latest crimes," Gregoire said. "I believe our laws have already closed those gaps, but we need to be diligent and make sure there are no exceptions." Gregoire is considering holding a special legislative session to come up with better ways to deal with such offenders.
 
Source:
“Governor wants DNA on file for sex offenders.” Seattle Times, September 11, 2007.

 
The city of  Denver has been awarded $1.5 million by the US Department of Justice’s Office Justice Programs to continue its Integrated Cold Case program, an interdisciplinary effort that uses DNA technology to solve criminal cases. In 2005, the Denver Police Department Crime Laboratory and Denver District Attorney’s office were selected by the Department of Justice as one of five sites to study the impact of DNA technology on high volume crimes like burglary. Since then, the city has analyzed 500 burglaries or other high-volume property crimes using DNA and studied the impact that DNA science had on the filing of these cases.
 
Source:
“Justice Department Awards $1.5m.” US Federal News, September 25, 2007.

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Promising Practices:
From the Desk of the Training Director

Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water?
By Dr. Kim Lonsway, EVAW International Director of Research and Joanne Archambault, SATI Training Director and Founder of EVAW International

While traveling and training for law enforcement, we are often questioned – and even challenged – about the role of victim advocates when responding to crimes of sexual violence. For example, just last month Joanne provided training in a state where the county prosecutor stood up and stated quite strongly that his office did not want advocates participating in any part of the law enforcement interview. This was particularly disappointing because we were talking at the time about best practices for the multidisciplinary response. Rather than discussing the current policy and its underlying rationale, however, the prosecutor simply declared that their policy was not to include advocates. Not surprisingly, this shut down any further discussion of the issue.

On another occasion, we were hosting a conference in San Diego. Joanne ended up talking to a group of officers who had attended a session she presented earlier in the day. They asked if they could talk to her about “those advocates.” They went on to say that the advocates and officers in their community were like “oil and water.” Apparently, there had been a feud many years ago and – although no one could remember what the feud was about – they still couldn’t seem to get along. To help both groups understand at least some of the source of the tension, Joanne asked them to think about their organizational histories. For example, although there are more women in law enforcement today then when Joanne first joined the San Diego Police Department in April 1980, police departments are still generally male-dominated, paramilitary organizations. On the other hand, most sexual assault coalitions and community-based rape crisis centers were created as a result of the feminist movement, when women gathered together to demand better treatment for rape victims. It’s easy to see that these two perspectives might clash at times. In order to understand each other, it is therefore important for both groups to appreciate the unique history, experiences, roles, and responsibilities of each.

So, to start answering the question in the title of this article – whether advocates and law enforcement are like “oil and water” – we would like to ask each one of you reading this article whether you would like to see more sex offenders held accountable for their crimes. We assume the answer is “YES.” If so, research and experience tells us that we must provide all victims of sexual violence (as well as their loved ones) with as much support as possible. Typically, the best way to do this is to provide advocacy services as early and as often as needed throughout the criminal justice process. This is often the only way that victims will be able to draw together the emotional resources they need to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their sexual assault. We have all seen how difficult this process can be for victims, especially given the attitudes of doubt and blame that are seen in our society when it comes to sexual assault. This is why at least one expert has described the process of advocating for victims within the criminal justice system as holding their hand on a walk through hell (Weisz, 1999; cited in Koss, 2006). [read more]

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Upcoming Conferences/Training

International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence & Stalking, March 31-April 2, 2008
 Click here for conference information
 
 
OLTI
On-Line Training Institute for Sexual Assault Investigations Click here for more information

Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Training
Hosted by Eisenhower Medical Center
January 21 - 25, 2008
Rancho Mirage, CA
Learn more

Featured Resources

The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women of the American Prosecutors Research Institute has published the following new monographs, which are available electronically:
 
* The Role of The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in the Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases
 
* Prosecuting Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault
 
* Introducing Expert Testimony to Explain Victim Behavior in Sexual and Domestic Violence Prosecutions
 
* Victim Responses to Sexual Assault: Counterintuitive or Simply Adaptive
 

Job Openings

Executive Director, Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. The successful candidate will lead Oregon’s statewide efforts to improve the response to and reduce the incidence of sexual assault in Oregon and beyond.

Location: Salem Oregon
Post date: November 1, 2007
Closing Date: Open until filled
Hiring Date: March 1, 2008
Start Date: One or before June 1, 2008
Learn More

Staff Attorney, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Learn More

Executive Director, Domestic Violence Shelter, Inc., Mansfield, OH. Send resume with cover letter including goals and expectations by 7/24 to PO Box 1524, Mansfield, OH 44901, FAX to 419-526-5320 or email to womenshelter@ earthlink.net. For more information, see www.thedvshelter.com.

Have a job opening, conference or an announcement of a personnel change for SATI e-news?  Tell us about it at deblandrew@aol.com

 

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