Effective Report Writing: Using the Language of Non-Consensual Sex
Offered by: Ending Violence Against Women International
Date: Sunday, November 16th, 2014
Time: 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM (Mountain Time)
Presenter: Joanne Archambault, Executive Director, End Violence Against Women International, Retired Sergeant, San Diego Police Department.
Description: This webinar is specifically for front-line law enforcement professionals. In fact, the webinar is being held on a Sunday morning, which is typically a slower time for law enforcement, in the hopes that graveyard and first watch officers can participate.
Even when properly investigated, the majority of reported sexual assaults are not successfully prosecuted. Prosecutors often argue that police reports are severely lacking while law enforcement argues that prosecuting attorneys want a sure win. No matter how good an investigation is–the prosecuting attorney may not feel confident filing criminal charges if the reports are incomplete or inaccurate. Or if the prosecutor files charges, the defendant may be acquitted if the reports summarizing the investigation are poorly written.
Defense attorneys often win cases because they attack the credibility of the investigation and the perception of the victim’s credibility, often with ammunition that comes from the investigator’s own reports.
A good report is more than an accurate summary of the facts. A good report anticipates potential defense strategies and provides the information necessary to counter them.
This webinar is designed to help investigators write a report that will support successful prosecution. The session thus begins by outlining the many purposes of an investigator’s report, and goes on to summarize some of the various techniques for effective report writing, such as:
- Recreating the reality of the sexual assault from the victim’s perspective
- Preserving the exact words used by the victim
- Describing what the victim was thinking and feeling at the time of the sexual assault
- Using descriptive wording when accurate and appropriate
- Documenting the entire context of force, threat, or fear that the victim experienced
- Using the language of non-consensual sex and creating accurate “word pictures
- Documenting unique factors that affect the victim’s experience, perspective, and response
- Summarizing the evidence and corroboration uncovered during the course of the investigation
- Exploring the benefits of recording victim’s statements, for both the investigator and the victim
- Documenting suspect statements, especially those that corroborate the victim’s account or provide an implausible or even absurd version of reality