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The Importance Of Forensic Evidence In Sexual Assault Cases

Interviewer: What kind of forensic evidence is there that’s practical?

Tom Chaves: The most important forensic evidence in any sexual assault case is the DNA evidence. So, in other words, if the claim is that the people had intercourse, then it’s likely that there will be some type of either semen or other bodily fluid that’s available to be tested and that if there’s a DNA match, which identifies the perpetrator as the individual, and there’s other evidence which would show that the sexual activity was non-consensual such as bruising to the vaginal area, such as other type of the injuries that might occur there that would be inconsistent with voluntary and consensual sexual activity, then that’s very critical forensic type evidence that is used in those type of cases.

Consensual Sex Is Mostly Used As a Defense In Cases Where Sexual Assault is Being Alleged

The defense in most sexual assault cases when people think of sexual assault, they think of rape – it’s not called rape in New Jersey, it’s called sexual assault – is consent. You can have a lot of DNA evidence and the defense to the case can be “we did have a sexual encounter but it was 100 per cent consensual by the person who’s claiming that they were raped.”

Students Alleging Sexual Assault May be Dissatisfied In Regards to the Adjudication of their Complaints

Recently, in the news, there’s been a lot of publicity about the claims of college students that they were assaulted sexually by other students and how they were so dissatisfied with respect to the adjudication of their complaints in not only the court system but also within the schools themselves. Under Title IX of federal law colleges and universities must conduct their own investigations and adjudications of alleged sexual assaults. The standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence and the punishment ranges from probation to expulsion. The schools have no criminal law jurisdiction.

Alleged Victims Of Sexual Assault May Recant Their Stories Later

Interviewer: Well, do you ever have situations where the alleged victims recant later?

Tom Chaves: It does happen. One of the strongest defenses in any sexual assault case is a situation where the individual who claims that they were sexually assaulted gives various versions of how the event occurred. That is much more common than people actually recanting and saying “I gave a false rape accusation against someone” because that in itself is a serious crime.

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