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Interview with sheriff that investigates rape - Essay Example

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Kevin Lewis, Officer, Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department Q. You have been investigating rape cases alone for the last three years. But in what percentage of cases were you able to bring the case to its logical conclusion of the culprit being convicted?…
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Kevin Lewis, Officer, Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department Q. You have been investigating rape cases alone for the last three years. But in what percentage of cases were you able to bring the case to its logical conclusion of the culprit being convicted? A. Among the 22 cases that I had investigated during this period, no charges could be filed in 8 cases. In all these eight cases, the culprits could not be identified because in three cases, the victims were in an intoxicated condition, in one case, they were attacked by people wearing masks and in four cases, the victims lost their consciousness caused by physical assault. One girl who was brutally raped still remains in a coma. But apart from these 8 cases, all other cases have been charged and in five cases, the accused were found guilty and sentenced. In 9 cases, either the investigation or the legal procedure is still in different stages. Q. What is your response about the allegation that there is generally an inordinate delay in the investigations of rape cases? If you agree with this criticism, what are the reasons behind? A. I agree there is a delay happening in some cases. The basic reason for this delay is the backlog in DNA testing. Another problem is that in many cases there is a big time gap between the actual incident and it being reported. This leads to almost complete destruction of evidences and puts the investigating team in immense difficulty in proving the case. Q. While looking into the history of rape cases, do you think the legal system has become more gender sensitive with time? A. I believe so. Before the shield law came into being, a victim was further victimized by becoming subject of a scrutiny of her sexual history in the court. So many victims decided not to come forward to fight the case. But the shield law stopped such disgracing trial underwent by the victim. Because of the gender sensitization that has happened to the whole system, the rate of conviction in rape cases has increased. Only about 20 to 30 percent of arrests on allegations of rape ended with a conviction, in the past. Now things have changed for good. But still one major hurdle that we face as investigation officers is that the credibility of the victim still holds great sway in the outcome of the court procedures. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is yet another law that enabled the rape victims to bring the rapists before the law and get them punished. Q. Date rape drugs have been a much discussed problem in connection with women failing in their attempts of self defense. Which are these drugs and how do they affect a victim? A. Alcohol is the most commonly used date rape drug. Sometimes rapists use prescription drugs such as sleep aids like gamma hydroxybutyric acid and benzodiazepines. Large doses of these drugs along with alcohol can even cause death when the victims take them unknowingly. It is because of the prevalence of use of these drugs that in our country, drugging and alcohol consumption is incorporated into rape laws appropriately. Q. Could you please tell me which was the most intriguing and difficult rape case that you have dealt with? A. I cannot give you the specific details and names because that will be against the right to privacy of the individuals involved. But I can tell you that rape done by a close acquaintance is more difficult to prove than by a stranger. But the tragic fact is that acquaintances rather than strangers are found to rape about 80 percent of the total women being raped. Q. How do you go about carrying out the investigation? How do you collect the necessary evidence? A. While registering a case, the screening questions that an investigation officer asks are very crucial. We have to determine exactly which type of rape has occurred and also record the memories of the victim about the rape in detail and in sequence. This will be very helpful in the further collection of evidences. If the rape is reported without delay, there will be biological evidence like semen, blood, or saliva. They can be subjected to tests including DNA analysis, which would help identify the culprit, and also to prove that rape has occurred. Q. Is age a factor when we consider the general profile of rapists? To which income group and social group do majority of rapists belong to? A. The average age of a rapist has been found to be around 30 by many studies. But there can be variations in individual cases. It is generally seen that men belonging to their own race are the ones who rape women. In about half of the rapes being carried out, the rapist is seen to be under the influence of alcohol or some other drug. And contrary to common perception, more than half of the rapes in our country are committed by white men. Read More
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