Investigating Sex Crime Cases


Overview of Investigating Sex Crimes for Private Investigators

This article provides an overview of sex crime investigations. Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person. Although these assaults are committed most frequently by a man on a woman, they may also be by a man on a man, a woman on a man, or a woman on a woman. However, it is much more common for crimes to be committed against women.

Facts: Approximately one in six American women will be victims of a sexual assault crime in her lifetime. Also, approximately ten percent of all rapes are suffered by males due to child rape and prison rape. 

While these types of physical assaults are often associated with rape, this crime may cover any physical harm that would not necessarily be considered rape.

What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the laws of the jurisdiction where the physical activity takes place, which vary considerably, and can be influenced by local social and cultural attitudes. Such crimes may include rape, forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, forced intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child molestation, and the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.

Punishment for Sexual Assault Crimes

The punishment associated with such crimes varies depending on the acts involved, the severity of the acts, the age of the victim, and the jurisdiction in which they occur. However, the courts punish them harshly, and prison sentences are doled out accordingly. Abusers can count on serving a healthy jail sentence and spending the rest of their lives labeled as predators.

Sex Crime Investigations

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) act of 2013 recommended developing best practices and protocols for collecting and processing DNA evidence in sexual assault cases. A working group was formed with experts from the National Institute of Justice, law enforcement agencies, forensic laboratories, medical examiners, and many more. Over two years, the SAFER Working Group developed a best practices document. The 150-page book is available o the National Institute of Justice website.

Recommended Books

If you’d like to learn more about this sensitive type of investigation, I recommend the following book:

Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation)

Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation)

This book was written specifically for criminal investigation courses. It covers the entire investigative process from start to finish. It explains the primary responsibilities of first responders and covers the unique demands of investigators in these types of cases.

In addition, it touches on relevant topics such as interviewing, reporting, working with prosecutors, and advice for getting further information.

How do Private Investigators get involved?

Parents or employers may retain private investigators to investigate sexual abuse or harassment claims. In some situations, private investigators may be able to uncover information and evidence not found by law enforcement officers and thus help solve the case. Due to the sensitive nature of this type of investigation, it is wise to have some training or knowledge of the subject.

Conducting a sex crime investigation may be slow and frustrating, as getting the victim to discuss the crime or reveal details is often difficult. Always remain sensitive to the severity of the acts and the physical and emotional damage they may cause. A private investigator must demonstrate understanding and empathy to help break through the walls of protection put up by most victims.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about sex crime investigations, please leave a comment below. For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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