Title

Justice Denied: Low Submission Rates of Sexual Assault Kits and The Predicting Variables

Defense Date

3-31-2016

Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2016

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Nursing

School

School of Nursing

Committee Chair

L. Kathleen Sekula

Committee Member

Alison Colbert

Committee Member

Rebecca Campbell

Committee Member

Victor Weedn

Keywords

Forensic Evidence, Law Enforcement, Rape, SANEs, Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault Kits

Abstract

The state of Utah has sexual assault rates consistently higher than the national average. Following sexual assaults, victims are advised to seek health care services with evidence collected and packaged in sexual assault kits (SAKs). This large (N=1,874), retrospective study examined rates of sexual assault kit (SAK) submissions by law enforcement (LE) to the state crime laboratory for analysis at four sites in Utah with established sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) programs on SAKs collected from 2010 to 2013. Variables of legal and extralegal characteristics in sexual assault cases were explored through GEE modeling to determine what factors predicted SAK submissions. For submitted SAKs, the length of time between the dates of assault and dates of submission were categorized and bivariate and multivariate analyses calculated to discover legal and extralegal characteristics affecting time of submission. The four study sites in Utah represented 40% of Utah LE agencies and 65% of the state’s population. Out of the 1,874 SAKs in the study, only 38.2% were submitted by LE to the state crime laboratory for analysis. When SAK submissions were examined based upon time between assaults and submission dates, 22.8% were submitted within a year of the assault and 15.4% were submitted more than a year after the assault following media and community pressure for LE agencies to submit SAKs in storage. Significant variability of SAK submission rates and the time submitted from the assault dates were found between the four sites. Site location was found to be the main determinant of whether or not SAKs were submitted. The lack of SAK submissions for analysis results in justice denied for victims and raises public safety concerns. The finding that the location in which the sexual assault occurred was the primary factor on SAK submissions represents an inequity of justice.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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