Using Experts for Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Violence Cases

Presenter: Jonathan H. Kurland, Attorney Advisor at AEquitas

Sexual Violence cases often present evidentiary questions and issues that are not in easily understood without the assistance of someone with specialized knowledge, training, and/or experience. This can involve challenges to understanding the presence or absence of medical evidence, the impact of toxicology on the human body, as well as the effects of trauma and the range of individual responses to sexual violence.

Experienced professionals familiar with the effects of trauma and the range of individual responses to trauma can provide judges and juries with the necessary context to ensure that they are making informed decisions based on the evidence. If left unexplained at trial, these misconceptions can severely impact the outcome of a case.

This presentation will focus the use of experts that respond to sexual violence. Discussion will include utilizing testimony from law enforcement, advocacy, and forensic nurses/SANEs. Further discussion will include topics such as the medical forensic exam; strengths and limitations of medical evidence; educating factfinders about the range of victim behaviors and responses; lack of injury; and toxicology issues related to the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence cases.

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