Just Sexual Assault Response for Cases without DNA Evidence

Just Sexual Assault Response for Cases without DNA Evidence

Original Release Date: April 19, 2024

In this 2024 Sexual Assault Awareness Month special release episode, Just Science sat down with Erin House, Special Assistant Attorney General in Michigan; Richard Johnson, Kalamazoo SAKI Investigator; and Lindsey King, Kalamazoo Community-based Victim Advocate, to discuss their team-based approach for investigating sexual assault cold cases. 

While DNA can be a helpful tool for convicting sexual assault offenders, many sexual assault cold cases do not include DNA evidence. As a result, it is important for investigators and prosecutors to utilize a variety of methods to bring a sexual assault case to justice. Listen along as Erin, Rich, and Lindsey discuss how their team first approaches a cold case, examples of case success stories, and how a multidisciplinary approach ensures that survivors are always supported and heard. 

This episode is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (Award No. 15PNIJ-21-GK-02192-MUMU). 

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. 

Listen to or download the episode here:

View or download the episode transcript here:

Episode Citation

Chute, J., House, E., Johnson, R., & King, L. (2024, April 19). Just Science. Just Sexual Assault Response for Cases without DNA Evidence. [Audio podcast episode]. National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence.

Guest Biography

Erin House has a J.D. from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Ms. House is employed by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office as a Special Assistant Attorney General.  Since 2017, Ms. House has led the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) where she works with a team of investigators and a community-based victim advocate to reinvestigate and prosecute cold-case sexual assaults originating from previously-untested sexual assault forensic evidence kits.  The Kalamazoo County SAKI project started in 2017 in response to discovery of thousands of untested sexual assault kits across the State of Michigan.  Ms. House’s team has been recognized by Attorney General Dana Nessel as the “gold standard” in Michigan for successful trauma-informed cold-case sexual assault prosecution units. To date, Ms. House and the Kalamazoo SAKI team have secured convictions in 17 separate cases.  Previously, Ms. House was employed for eight years with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office as a Special Assistant Attorney General with their Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Unit.  Ms. House handled prosecutions of misdemeanor and felony domestic abuse related cases across multiple counties in rural northern Michigan. Ms. House's present work and approach to prosecution is informed by her foundation work as an advocate in domestic violence agencies. 

Richard Johnson has been in Law enforcement since 1988, and if you want to count his time as An Army M.P., since 1983. He spent a majority of his career at the Sturgis Mi. Police Dept. He has held many jobs in the field in his many years on the Job, Undercover Narcotic’s Investigator, Patrolman, Shift Corporal and Shift Sargent, Youth Gang Investigator, Detective, Bike Patrol Officer. He holds an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor’s degree in Management and a faith-based decision brought him to the SAKI project since Oct. of 17. 

Lindsey King is the Community Based Advocate on the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Team. She has been performing direct service work with survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence for over six years. Lindsey joined the Kalamazoo SAKI Team as their Victim Advocate in July of 2023. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication, with a minor in Social Work, as well as a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Leadership.   

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast episode are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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