Note: the study to which the news item refers (below) may be downloaded from the website below. [Please note, this is a rather large .pdf file and may take a minute to download.] For further information or a reprint contact: Wendy Lee, Director of Communications, NCASSF at the University of New Hampshire.
CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS RISK FACTORS FOR RAPE
Alcohol is more closely associated with crimes of sexual violence than any other substance.
Alcohol use by the offender is present in 30 - 90% of all rape cases; alcohol use by the victim is present in 46 - 75% of all rapes.
Drinking by the victim -- but not by the suspect -- has a direct bearing on whether a suspect will be arrested and brought to trial, and an offender convicted and sentenced.
These were among the conclusions reached during a daylong conference held in New York City late last week. The gathering, which attracted 180 participants from the mental health, law enforcement and university communities, took place one week after the release of a 4-year joint Rutgers University - University of New Hampshire study that reported similar findings.
The study, published in the February Criminal Law Bulletin, focused on juries that decide rape cases. It concluded that drinking by the victim in the hours leading up to the incident is the single most important influence on verdict, resulting in a not-guilty decision in almost every case in which it occurs.
UNH researcher Douglas Koski said that jurors view drinking as a "credibility issue, which leads them to focus on the 'reasonable doubt' standard" given them. Jurors find it difficult to convict because of "commonsense notions about alcohol usage," Koski said. "Witnesses who drink, including the victim, are perceived as less believable than those who do not."
Linda Fairstein, another conference participant and Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit for New York County, stated, "In rape trials, we are faced with having to prove that intoxicated victims are credible 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' It is one thing to 'blame the victim' and another to say 'We can't prosecute because the victim has only a vague recollection of the events.'"
Dr. Koski added that while research "points anecdotally to the notion that victims are occasionally disabled by 'date rape' drugs," such incidents are "overwhelmed by cases in which the voluntary ingestion of alcohol is interwoven in the facts of acquaintance [rape] cases."
The conference, "Dangerous Liaisons: Substance Abuse and Sexual Behavior," was sponsored by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
The National Center for the Advanced Study of Social Forces is a nonprofit education and research group dedicated to providing legal information to low income and marginalized groups in New England and the Northeast Corridor, and to promote the understanding of social behavior within and across groups and cultures. Current projects involve the function and behavior of law; resilience, education and change; and social justice for underserved and stigmatized groups. For further information contact: Wendy Lee, Director of Communications, NCASSF at the University of New Hampshire.
Douglas D. Koski, JD, PhD
c/o Wendy Lee
Family Research Laboratory
University of New Hampshire
Editor, Social Science
Courts & Juries: Interdisciplinary Developments, NY, NY
Editor, Sex Offender Law Report, NY, NY
Deputy Director, National Center for the Advanced Study of Social Forces
PO Box 7, Durham, NH 03824-0007
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; PLEASE REPLY email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://members.aol.com/dkoski/CLBv38rel1.pdf
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