The Time to Collect is Now: DNA Evidence in Groping Sexual Assault Cases - Archival
Improving the overall response to sexual assault includes understanding how touch DNA evidence impacts groping sexual assault cases. This webinar illustrated the importance of these cases and highlight proposed guidelines for evidence collection.
Original Live Webinar took place on 02/27/2019 DNA evidence collection in groping sexual assault cases is now possible due to improvements in DNA analysis methods. Years ago, evidence collection in sexual assault cases focused on stains from foreign contributor bodily fluids. Currently, DNA profiles can be developed from touch or trace DNA which enables evidence collection in groping sexual assault cases. A brief history of touch DNA use in sexual assault cases will be presented. In addition, factors influencing the deposition of epithelial cells or touch DNA will be described. An interesting case study will be reviewed on the successful identification of a serial groper on a university campus from touch DNA analysis findings. An overview of the STR and Y-STR DNA results found in this case will be shared to explore the practice implications on evidence collection and analysis in sexual assault groping cases. Research from a Mountain-West state database of 4,038 sexual assault kits linking information from evidence collection to DNA analysis findings will be shared with focus on 66 identified groping sexual assault cases (1.6% of cases). Approximately 250 legal or extralegal variables were analyzed on each case to explore victim and assault characteristics in sexual assault groping cases. A summary of key variables on the groping cases will be discussed. Information regarding sexual assault kit submission rates in the groping cases will be provided. The DNA analysis findings on groping cases submitted for testing will be shared and compared to DNA analysis findings on sexual assault kits in which victims had contact with body fluids from assailants. The findings from the research study and case study support increasing evidence collection in sexual assault groping cases. An educational program designed by sexual assault nurse examiners and forensic scientists will be presented with ideas on dissemination to community multidisciplinary partners. In addition, a Touch DNA Evidence Collection Form will be shared with attendees as an example. The conclusion of the webinar focused on the benefits of developing strong collaborative relationships between medical/nursing sexual assault forensic examiners with those processing the biological evidence, forensic scientists, to achieve optimal DNA analysis results in sexual assault groping cases. Collaboration between medical/nursing forensic examiners and forensic scientists is necessary to establish and achieve best practice guidelines for evidence collection in sexual assault cases. Detailed Learning Objectives: 1. Describe background information on touch DNA in sexual assault cases and factors that influence epithelial cell deposition. 2. Explain evidence collection practice implications from groper case study and research findings. 3. Identify possible suggestions and opportunities to expand evidence collection in groping sexual assault cases in their jurisdictions. This webinar was recorded in its entirety at the time of the Live event in order to capture the one on one interaction with the presenter. Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice.