Investigating sex crimes often involves following guidelines that have been developed as a result of identifying mistakes from past investigations. Much can be gained from examining a crime scene about the offender. In some instances, in particular when the victim is young or does not remember the sex crime occurring due to alcohol or drugs, the investigators must rely on alternative sources of information. Many of those who investigate sex crimes have received specialist training, as working with sex crimes can be psychologically draining. Those who are first- responders and those who interview suspects must be aware of the mistakes that can occur during an investigation, potentially damaging the case. Given that people are involved in the process, human error may occur. Special care must therefore be taken to eliminate or at least minimize mistakes.


  • • Profiling a sex crime involves identifying a modus operandi, determining whether a crime scene is organized or disorganized, identifying any signature, and potentially conducting a geographical profile.
  • • Emergency 911 operators and first responders to a sex crime must take great care to preserve and identify any potential evidence.
  • • Interviewing vulnerable victims involves taking additional precautions, such as allowing a trained advocate to be present and asking questions in a phased approach.
  • • A medical examination is usually required, which should be conducted by a specially trained nurse, usually through a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program.
  • • I nterviewing a sex-crime suspect should be done using a humane interview approach, asking appropriate questions, and an information-gathering approach.
  • • Several types of sex crimes involve unique investigational obstacles. These include sexual homicide, alcohol- and drug-facilitated rapes, deaths caused from autoerotic asphyxiation, and false rape allegations.
  • • Sexual homicides are rare occurrences, usually fueled by fantasy, and are believed to be committed by either compulsive sexual murders or catathymic sexual murders.
  • • Alcohol- and drug-facilitated rapes present unique investigational challenges, as the victim often does not remember the incident.
  • • Many who die accidentally from autoerotic asphyxiation are posed as suicides by those who find the victim.
  • • Criminal justice practitioners and researchers disagree on the extent of false rape allegations. This may be due to applying different definitions of false rape allegations.
  • • There are three broad categories of common investigational mistakes that can affect a sex crime investigation: cognitive biases, organizational traps, and errors in probabilities.
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