Perpetrators of sexual assault are rarely prosecuted. The Justice Department wants to change that | Spokane News

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says domestic violence and sexual assault cases are difficult to prosecute. A new list of guidelines for prosecutors released by the department aims to give lawyers new tools to convict attackers.

The scale of sexual and domestic violence in the United States is statistically staggering. 911 emergencies linked to domestic violence, according to the National Institute of Justice constitute the largest category of calls to police services.

Although a widespread problem, abuse is under-reported and under-prosecuted. Social science study cited by DOJ reports that less than 30% of sexual assaults are reported to police, while only 3% will result in a conviction.

The new prosecutor’s guide includes five principles for framing domestic and sexual violence cases, which focus on the experiences of the victim.

“Perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence often target their victims based on their vulnerabilities and perceived lack of credibility within society,” the DOJ guidelines state.

The report, which was written with input from federal, state and tribal prosecutors, underlines the importance for prosecutors to combat the stigmas on which perpetrators rely to avoid accountability.

Indirect trauma The problems faced by prosecutors who regularly handle sexual violence cases are also addressed in the report. The DOJ has encouraged local, state, and federal offices to create workflows that distribute the most emotionally taxing cases among multiple attorneys.

Attorney General Merrick Garland touted the new document as a victory for both victims and prosecutors.

“When investigating and prosecuting heinous crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence, prosecutors must deliver justice in a way that does not retraumatize victims and survivors,” Garland said.

Several Spokane organizations provide support to those experiencing domestic violence, including the YWCA,Safe passage And Vanessa Béhan. Additional Resources can be found on the Spokane Regional Health District website.