The investigation of rape and other sex crimes represents a significant challenge for the criminal investigator. The manner in which the investigation is conducted can have an impact not only on a successful conclusion in court, but also on the psychological and social well-being of the victim. Sex crimes, more so than many other forms of criminal activity, are likely to leave an emotional scar that can last a lifetime. The focus of this chapter is on the crime of rape. However, it is important to recognize that virtually all sex-related offenses demand special attention. To begin with, interviewing victims, witnesses, and even offenders requires a high level of compassion and skill. One of the fastest growing types of crimes today is the general category of Internet- related crimes.
The success of the investigation will also depend frequently on the collection of physical evidence. The nature of proof in sex offenses, unlike most other crimes, traditionally has required some corroboration other than the victim’s testimony. Sex crimes also arouse the concern of the community, and there is likely to be political and public pressure on the police to solve the case. If not handled properly, this pressure can contribute to a faulty and hasty investigation. Rape is also the felony that is least reported to the police. In 2005, rape victims accounted for approximately 0.8 per 1,000 households, with the probability of victimization being higher in metropolitan areas. Statistically, we know that most rapes are committed by a single individual acting alone; almost one-third occur in or near the home; one in four occur in a public area or garage; more than 60 percent occur between 6:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.; and more than one-half of the victims are under the age of 19. According to victimization surveys, only about 30 to 40 percent of rapes are reported, and in more than 70 percent of the cases the perpetrator is known to the victim.1
Divorced or separated women are...
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