Begun Center researchers collaborate to explore sexual assault in the criminal justice system

A new article by Rachel Lovell​, Laura Overman​, Jeff Huang and Dan Flannery explores the bureaucratic burden placed on victims to identify who sexually assaulted them and to remain engaged in an often harmful process and investigative and judicial system. Implications suggest this burden could be eased via increased trauma-informed victim support and protocols and increased use of forensic evidence.

Sexual assault is the most underreported violent crime in the criminal justice system. The vast majority never make it past the investigative phase; yet an estimated 400,000 sexual assault kits have languished untested across the U.S. Testing kits not only identifies suspects; it also connects offenders to previously unsolved crimes, exonerates innocent suspects, and populates the federal DNA database.

This study’s contribution to existing research on sexual assault and the criminal justice system is both methodological and theoretical. It provides a more comprehensive framework for exploring the bureaucratic burden that the criminal justice system places on victims of sexual assault to ensure their case proceeds.

Read the article, titled “The Bureaucratic Burden of Identifying your Rapist and Remaining ‘Cooperative’: What the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Tells us about Sexual Assault Case Attrition and Outcomes.”