Being Smart About Sexual Assault

Knowing how to properly collect evidence of sexual assault crimes is important for any investigator.


The drug is often used at raves. It is added to water or other drinks. The effects make the user seem to display the signs of being drunk.

Forensically the drug is very difficult to detect. The half-life is a mere 20 minutes. It is detectable in blood for about 4 hours after use. In urine it is present for about three days.

There are several street names for GHB such as "aminos," "Georgia," "liquid ex.," "goop," "salty water" and "soap" but "Ecstasy" is the most common.

Fibers
Fibers are commonly found on bedding, carpets and furniture which may have come into contact with the victim or suspect's clothing. Points of entry and exit such as door jams and window sills can have bits of fiber from clothing caught on them. Trees and bushes along the point of entry and exit may have fibers adhering to them.

Scraping from under the victims fingernails may contain fibers. Buttons, zippers and belt buckles from either the victim's clothing or the suspect's may have cross transferred fibers caught in them.

Weapons
Weapons can be anything from a bottle or tree branch to a firearm. If the type of injury is apparent it is easier to search for the type of weapon used. Weapons create unique tool marks in the form of injury patterns on a victim. The suspect may have left blood or fingerprints on a weapon. Alternately, vagina secretions or blood from a victim may be on a weapon.

Glass
Fragments of glass from broken windows, bottles, etc., can tell an investigator many things. Various types of glass are unique in their properties and density. These variations can be used to determine the source of the glass such as window glass or bottle glass. Glass fragments caught in the suspect's clothing which are associated with the crime scene can help place the suspect at the scene.

Radial and concentric fractures as well as stress fractures can determine the direction of impact as well as the point of impact.

Entomological
Entomological evidence may be present in the form of head or crab lice. It can also be present as insects or parts of insects caught in the victim's or suspect's hair and clothing.

The presence of head or crab lice can be important in linking a suspect to a victim. Entomological evidence can also indicate a location such as indoors or outdoors, country or city or season because all insect have a particular niche in which they live.

Sexually transmitted disease
The presence of any STD can link a victim to a suspect or vice versa. Only in rare cases is this definitive. Unless the victim has been celibate for years as in the case of someone in a coma, someone institutionalized for mental incapacity or too young to engage in sexual activity it is hard to prove the source of the STD.

Wound patterns
Wounds incurred in a sexual assault can be of any nature. It may be the victim or the suspect that is wounded.

Of particular interest in sexual assault cases are the wound patterns a victim may have sustained. The victim may lie about the circumstances he or she is in or be unaware what has happened to them. He or she may present themselves to medical staff or police as a recent victim when in reality the assault has occurred several days prior. Having a trained S.A.N.E. nurse or doctor assess the bruising and wounds to see if the time line fits is advisable.

Whether there is bruising around the vulva or tearing at either the 6 or 12 o'clock position is important. This alone is not indicative of sexual assault, but can be a red flag to investigators.

Restraint marks from bondage such as tape, wire, clothing, etc., also can be red flags for investigators. Bruising on the upper arms and inner thighs of both female and male victims may be present. In victims who have been anally penetrated, while on their stomachs, there may be bruising or lacerations between the naval and pubic line. This is caused by friction between the penetrating object and floor.

Bite marks are fairly common in sexual assault and tend to have patterns according to the sex of the victim. Females tend to be bitten on the neck, shoulder, breast and inner thigh and the buttocks. Men tend to be bitten on the upper back, shoulder and scrotum. Any of these injuries are indicators of a sexual assault when in combination with other evidence.

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