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Freedom from Sexual Violence

Forensic Compliance in Colorado: An Examination of System Response to Sexual Assault

Forensic Compliance Team
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The Forensic Compliance Evaluation Project (FCEP) sought to identify effective approaches and challenges encountered with the implementation of forensic compliance laws mandated through the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2005 and related Colorado statutory changes in 2008. The forensic compliance laws mandate that sexual assault victims receive medical forensic exams at no cost to the victim without required participation in a law enforcement investigation.

The FCEP study examined the implementation and impact of forensic compliance laws through a quantitative analysis of adult forensic compliance cases, and quantitative and qualitative surveys of professional responders to adult sexual assault cases – medical professionals, victim advocates, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors. The FCEP study did not survey victims as the intent of the project was to determine the system response to forensic compliance laws. The purpose of the study was to gather data for three primary research objectives:

  1. Examine the case outcomes that resulted from Colorado’s forensic compliance 2008
    statutory changes (Colorado House Bill 08-1217);
  2. Detect challenges and identify gaps for medical reporting victims in the
    implementation of the forensic compliance laws among the four primary responding
    professions: medical, advocacy, law enforcement, and prosecutors; and,
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness and clarity of current Colorado statutes related to the
    response to adult sexual assault victims.