Following the format used at national SART conferences, SART members will learn how law enforcement and advocates deal with the reluctant witness and make tough decisions from medical and crime scene evidence collection through the trial. SART members will engage in realistic simulations and role-play as victims, suspects and other participants. Each SART Live event will include the following sessions.
16 CEUs are awarded to learners who attend and pass the on-site curriculum.
Session I: Opening Session: Victim Interview by Law Enforcement
Nothing is more crucial to a sexual assault investigation than the information the victim is able to relate regarding the crime. The victim provides the crucial details surrounding the sexual assault, which can assist in corroborating the incident, allow for the follow-up on leads, and help to establish the legal elements of the offense.
This interview may, in trial, be the deciding factor in the determination of guilt or innocence. SART members responsible for these comprehensive interviews must remain objective, be able to understand human behavior, and at the same time avoid “victim blaming.”
In this session, SART members will have the opportunity to interview a victim who is disclosing a sexual assault. A facilitated discussion will follow the interview, allowing for an exploration of the interviewing techniques used and the nature of the information obtained. The students will learn how to conduct a comprehensive interview of the victim, while being sensitive to the victim’s needs. The students will be able to elicit difficult, probing information while avoiding placing any blame on or otherwise being critical of the victim’s conduct.
An overview of the two days will also be included in this session. SARTs will watch elements of the crime unfold. Then SARTs will use the evidence that is collected to help work their way through the maze of the sexual assault investigation.
Session II: The Rape Crisis Center
The second session will start with a call to the local rape crisis center by another possible victim of the same assailant. She is concerned but not sure she wants to talk to law enforcement. She and the victim advocate will talk about her concerns and options, and what the sexual assault investigation will involve.
Session III: Crime Scene Investigation
With the numerous crime shows on television today, many jurors expect corroborative forensic proofs in a sexual assault case. Although not all crime scenes will yield forensic evidence, the SART must be prepared to recover forensic evidence or be able to explain why it is absent.
Members of the SART who are responsible for the processing of these scenes must be familiar with the identification, collection and preservation of any forensic, trace or circumstantial evidence that could potentially be of probative value. In this session, SART members will be given a mock crime scene to process, utilizing accepted methods for crime scene collection and preservation.
Following this session, a facilitated discussion will address the evidence collected and the methods utilized. The students will learn that multiple crime scenes may exist in a single case of sexual assault. They will gain experience in identifying potential crime scenes and the various types of evidence that may be contained.
Session IV: Victim Medical-Legal Exam
This session will focus on the medical-legal evidentiary exam of the sexual assault victim. Controversial issues, such as the exam of the intoxicated patient and the unconscious patient, will be discussed. In addition, the five components of the sexual assault evidentiary exam will each be addressed. These include evaluation and documentation of injury, assessment of risk for sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV) and preventive care, evaluation of risk of pregnancy and prevention, collection of forensic evidence, and crisis intervention and follow-up needs. It will also include a review of the four uses of evidence found on the victim’s body.
Session V: Suspect Interview
The interview of potential suspects can often be the turning point in a sexual assault case. The SART investigator’s goal in these interviews is to determine the truth of what may or may not have occurred, in conformity with established legal principles to ensure that the information will later be admissible in at trial.
After gathering the victim’s statement and processing the crime scene, SART members will have the opportunity to interview potential suspects in the case. A facilitated discussion will follow, allowing for input on the interview strategies utilized and analysis of the statements obtained from the suspects.
Students will gain a unique perspective on effective strategies that can be employed to gain maximum information from a suspect. They will be able to recognize the controlling legal principles under which the exam must be conducted.
Session VI: Lab Analysis Results, DNA 101 & DFSA
Crime lab results can aid in corroborating or refuting a victim’s version of events and can provide information for prosecutors to use in charging decisions. Members of the SART should have an awareness of how certain lab results factor into the ultimate charging decisions and ability for the prosecutor to prove his or her case. In this session, SART members will be presented with a variety of different lab results (e.g., a DNA profile foreign to the victim, evidence that the victim was or was not positive for certain drugs) and will be asked to consider potential directions the case could take in light of the implications from the evidence in each variation. The session will consist mostly of a facilitated discussion focusing on the various lab results presented.
Session VII: Trial Preparation and Charging Decisions
Charging decisions can make or break a case. An appropriate charge in a rape case can only be determined when adequate information has been developed to make an informed decision: a thorough police investigation; a comprehensive SANE forensic medical exam; and a victim, supported by an advocate, who is willing to proceed with prosecution.
In this session, the SART detective and prosecutor will present the case to a senior prosecutor in an attempt to have charges authorized to proceed against the defendants with a felony prosecution. A facilitated discussion will follow, addressing issues raised in the charging conference, including developing a trial strategy for presenting the case to a jury.
The students will learn that only through the collaboration of the SART members can adequate information be developed to make a proper legal assessment of the case. The team members should be able to anticipate potential problems that may arise so that a comprehensive trial strategy can be developed.
Session VIII: Mock Trial
The work of the SART is not over until the criminal trial is completed. All team members must be thoroughly prepared to address their actions in the case in order to provide convincing testimony to a jury. In this session, a prosecutor will conduct the direct exam of the victim in the case, as well as question the SANE and case detective who were part of the SART. An actual trial judge will preside over the trial.
A facilitated discussion will follow, addressing all issues raised during the course of the mock trial. The students will gain an appreciation for the need to effectively communicate their findings to adequately educate the jury. Strategies will be developed as to how each team member may best present his or her testimony so that it is both focused and convincing.
Costs for either a 1-day or a 2-day Mock Trial will be shared among the participants. For tuition, site requirements and travel arrangements, please contact Dr. Ledray at firstname.lastname@example.org or the program administrator at email@example.com.