Investigations of Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders
- • Define and identify key concepts related to crime-scene profiling and crime-scene basics.
- • Describe the criteria associated with responding to sex crimes.
- • Describe the characteristics of sex crimes with unique investigational characteristics.
- • Identify three broad categories of types of investigative failures.
The goals of any police investigation, including a sex-crime investigation, include finding out what happened (or if anything happened) and finding out who did what (Milne & Bull, 1999). Law enforcement officers do this through an active investigation, which includes assessing evidence from the crime scene and interviewing witnesses, suspects, and victims. Furthermore, the goal of any police interview is to obtain accurate, complete, and relevant accounts from the interviewee (McGurk, Carr, & McGurk, 1993).
In this chapter, we present information regarding sex-crimes investigations, including various types of profile techniques and crime-scene characteristics that law enforcement officers rely upon during their investigations. We also present critical aspects of responding to crimes with a sexual motivation, including key information for 911 operators and police officers who often encounter vulnerable victims and suspects. For sexual assaults, an essential investigational tool is the medical examination, which involves a specialized nurse. This chapter, therefore, is intended to cover some key components and duties of police officers and other officials who are involved in the investigation of a sexually motivated crime. It is not intended to be a "how-to" manual for those who are part of a sex-crime investigation, but rather the intention is to highlight some of the processes and various official persons who are involved in sex-crime investigations, to provide a broader perspective of the sum of intricacies involved in such matters.
Sex crimes pose unique investigational challenges. For example, when someone commits an alcohol- or drug-facilitated rape, consent of the victim may be difficult to discern. Other scenarios exist that present other challenges, and a few of those are discussed in this chapter, including distinguishing accidental deaths (from autoerotic asphyxiation) from suicides, and false rape allegations. Each of these sex crimes is discussed in terms of what they are and how they should be handled through an investigation.
Finally, given some of the recent media attention on false convictions that have occurred in the recent past, an overview of commonly identified investigative mistakes is presented, with attention given to sex crimes. Information is provided about how these common investigative failures can be avoided.