Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Sexual Assault Response

At the request of the National Institute of Justice, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) leads a comprehensive federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault. These practices are delivered to nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners, and collaborative sexual assault response teams (SANE/SAFE/SART). This FTCoE effort focuses on systemic challenges that impede the investigation of criminal sexual assaults in the United States.

Specific goals are in place to create an awareness of resources and ensure that existing research, information, knowledge and best practices are available and accessible to all who contribute to the nation’s response to sexual assault.

Several recent federally sponsored roundtable discussions and forums have identified gaps in education and policies governing sexual assault response. This being said, further documentation and compilation of proven best practices in sexual assault response are still needed. Standardized protocols, guides and other resources exist for practitioners however, specific requirements, techniques, preferences and protocols can vary between state, local and tribal communities. To address the incongruent approaches of forensic sexual assault evidence collection, a system of knowledge-transfer and outreach will be established. This system will address strategies for developing more effective forensic sexual assault response practices.

 

These efforts are reflected through the federal meeting, practitioner meeting and policy forum. Documentation of these events and their final report are available below.

 

SANE/SAFE/SART Resources

• Introduction to Touch DNA Evidence for Sexual Assault Groping Cases Video Series
The Multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Glossary
• Federal Meeting
• Practitioner Meeting
• Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium
• Policy Forum
• Final Report
• How Research and Technology Are Expanding Sexual Assault Kit Testing 

 

US and forensic science disciplines

2021 Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders Public Meeting

Overview The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), will hold a Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders meeting on November 8, 2021 from…
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2021 National Forensic Science Week Practitioner Interviews

← Back to Main Page Overview The FTCoE has conducted a variety of written interviews with forensic professionals in various stages of their careers. From recent graduates to retired professionals, the FTCoE showcases real-world perspectives on the current state of…
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Just Advocating for Older Survivors

In episode nine of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Ms. Marya Simmons, founder and CEO of Shift in Notion Consulting, to discuss considerations for supporting older survivors of sexual assault.  Shift in Notion Consulting is focused on developing…
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Just a Cost Benefit Analysis of Sexual Assault Investigation

In episode four of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Rachel Lovell, Research Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, and Mary Weston, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s…
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Just Trauma-Informed Victim-centered Interviewing

In episode three of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Natasha Alexenko, Jordan Satinsky, and Marya Simmons to discuss trauma informed, victim-centered interviewing for sexual assault cases.    A sexual assault victim’s experiences with law enforcement and advocates…
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Just a Guide to Sexual Assault Response Reform

In episode three of our Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Patricia Melton, co-director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Training and Technical Assistance program, to discuss a new resource that will help criminal justice…

Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch Deoxyribonucleic Acid in Groping and Sexual Assault Cases

Report Publication Journal of Forensic Nursing, April 2021 Introduction Historically, evidence collection in sexual assault cases focused on obtaining foreign contributor bodily fluids through swab collection. With improvements in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis methods, DNA profiles can be developed from touch…
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Perspectives on Addressing the Collection, Tracking, and Processing of Lawfully Owed DNA Samples

Report Date April 2021 Introduction The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a powerful tool that supports the criminal justice system by generating investigative leads, identifying perpetrators, and linking cases together. DNA profiles obtained from…
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Just a Survivor’s Perspective and Reflection

In episode one of our 2021 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini season, Just Science sat down with author, non-profit founder, and sexual assault survivor Natasha Alexenko to discuss her book, A Survivor’s Journey, and the importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every survivor of sexual…

Introduction to Touch DNA Evidence for Sexual Assault Groping Cases Video Series

Overview: The Importance of Touch DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Groping Cases video series is presented by Dr. Julie Valentine and Heather Mills as a companion to the Journal of Forensic Nursing article entitled “Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch…
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FLN-TWG: Proteomic Mass Spectrometry for Biology Fluid Identification

Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG). The FLN-TWG supports NIJ’s mission…
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Just COVID-19: The Impact to Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault

Overview This week on Just Science, we are publishing a special release episode in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Social distancing, shelter in place, and other responses to COVID-19 can create a stressful environment for survivors of sexual assault…
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The Time to Analyze is Now: DNA Evidence in Groping Sexual Assault Cases

This webinar originally occurred on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 Duration: 1.5 hour(s) This webinar built on the concepts presented in the webinar “The Time to Collect is Now: DNA Evidence in Groping Sexual Assault Cases” presented by Dr. Julie Valentine.…
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Providing Forensic Healthcare and Support to Native Communities

This webinar originally occurred on February 27th, 2020 Duration: 1.5 hours Awareness of how to provide culturally appropriate and trauma informed services to the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) community is important for forensic examiners. This webinar discussed jurisdictional factors affecting…
scientist measuring bruises under blue and green lights

Detection and Visibility of Bruises Using Alternate Light: From Science to Practice

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Bruising is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury noted on victims of violence, including those suffering intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child…
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Handling Difficult and Disturbing Forensic Cases for Coroners and Medical Examiners

This webinar originally occurred on October 17th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour There are over 2000 medical examiner and coroner offices throughout the United States. All are involved in determining the cause and manner of death and communicating this information to…
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Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims

Overview: In 2017, the National Institute of Justice, Charleston Southern University, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, and the Shaken Baby Alliance worked together to create and host “From Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims.” This two-day conference, held in Charleston, SC, focused…

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Just the Evolution of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection

<<< back to all podcasts Just the Evolution of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a campaign designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and provide methods to prevent it. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness…

Neurophysiology and Overcoming Trauma: Understanding Individual Challenges

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) This webinar explores how personal experiences and unique traumas create commonly felt physical symptoms and investigates how the brain functions reflect a reaction to danger, an…

Collaboration Enhances Trauma-Informed Response to Sexual Assault Survivors

Original live webinar took place Thursday, April 25, 2019 1:00:00 PM EDT – 2:30:00 PM EDT Duration: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s) Register for the archived version below. The Houston Area Women’s Center’s & Houston Police Department’s experiences will provide attendees…

Identification: Just a Modified Direct to DNA Approach to Sexual Assault Kit Testing

<<< back to all podcasts Just a Modified Direct to DNA Approach to Sexual Assault Kit Testing In episode three of the Identification season, Just Science interviews forensic biologist Caitlin Rogers. Forensic scientists are always looking to improve the efficiency…

The Time to Collect is Now: DNA Evidence in Groping Sexual Assault Cases

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 2:00 PM ET – 3:30 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) Improving the overall response to sexual assault includes understanding how touch DNA evidence impacts groping sexual assault cases. This webinar will illustrate the importance of these…

In-Brief Report Series: Beyond DNA – Sexual Assault Investigations

Report Series Date January 2019 Introduction The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is committed in their efforts to support scientific advancement, evidence-based practices, and community awareness of our Nation’s sexual assault response. As NIJ’s Director, Dr. David B. Muhlhausen, indicated,…

A Landscape Study of SOPs to Collect and Process Arrestee and Convicted Offender DNA Samples

Report Date This study is currently being conducted. The project team presented a poster on preliminary findings and next steps at the International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in Phoenix, Arizona on September 24-27, 2018. Description The Forensic Technology Center…

New SWGDAM Recommendations on Communicating Likelihood Ratios

Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:00:00 PM ET – 3:00:00 PM ET Duration: 2 hour(s) SWGDAM recently issued recommendations on genotyping results reported as likelihood ratios, designed to promote consistency among laboratories. Members of the committee will discuss the recommendations and…

Forensic Workforce Resiliency: Vicarious Trauma & Workplace Stress Webinar Series

Overview Professionals throughout the criminal justice system are exposed to the aftermath of violent crime and its victims. These individuals may include forensic nurses, crime scene investigators, forensic practitioners, medicolegal death investigators, and other professionals in related fields. Research has…

Improving Sexual Assault Response within Special Populations Webinar Series

Overview Creating a victim-centered response to sexual assault within special populations is a critical component of improving support services to victims, maintaining victim engagement in the criminal justice process, and improving sexual assault case outcomes. A victim’s first impression of…

Providing Gender Inclusive Care to Victims of Sexual Assault

This webinar originally occurred on August 30th, 2018 Duration: 1 hour This webinar will discuss considerations to best serve sexual assault victims of LGBTQ community, particularly transgender survivors, and present case studies to illustrate gender inclusive responses to sexual assault.…

Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices

Overview At the request of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) coordinated a comprehensive Federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners,…

Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices

Overview At the request of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) coordinated a comprehensive Federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners,…

Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium

Overview The National Institute of Justice, the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington, DC.…

2016 NSAPS: Panel 3 – Investigating Sexual Assault Webinar [Archival]

The National Institute of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted “Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium” on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington D.C. The panel highlighted the complexities of investigating sexual assault cases and promising…

2017 TechBeat Articles Featuring the FTCoE

FTCoE Opioid Webinar Series Shares Knowledge, Promotes Collaboration  Issue: November 2017 Click here to read the article Forensic Technology Center of Excellence Launches Podcast Series Issue: July/August 2017 Pages: 8-10 Click here to read the article Optical Topography Report: Findings, Methodology, Recommendations Issue: May 2017 Pages: 8-13…

Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary

About the Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) in collaboration with the Center for Nursing Excellence International (CFNEI) has developed a sexual violence online glossary for medical, law enforcement, and legal professionals. Effective communication among…

Webinar: Investigating Sexual Violence – Policy Forum: Emerging Solutions and Best Practices [Archival]

This is the archival version of a two-hour Policy and Practices Forum which brings together experienced and knowledgeable subject matter experts in various fields contributing to the investigation and processing of cases involving sexual violence. The investigation of sexual violence…

Webinar: Best Practices – Sexual Assault Investigations Policy Forum [Archival]

This forum focused on emerging techniques and developments associated with evidence collection training, evidence analysis utilizing Y-STR capabilities and victim-centric care approaches (e.g., understanding the neurobiology of the victim in sexual assault). Presentations in this forum discussed development of best…

Webinar: Best Practices in Sexual Assault Cases [Archival]

In the ongoing struggle to protect would-be victims from sexual predators, great advances are being made in forensic nursing research and practice, from strangulation assessment to the photographic documentation of injuries and beyond. Valerie Krasneski-Schreiber, unit director of the UPMC…

Webinar: 2016 NSAPS Panel 7 – Testing Sexual Assault Evidence [Archival]

The National Institute of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted “Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium” on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington D.C. Panelists took a look inside evidence testing and decision making at the…

Webinar: 2016 NSAPS Panel 4 – Legislative Reform on Sexual Assault [Archival]

The National Institute of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted “Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium” on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington D.C. This panel discussed new legislative and policy reforms undertaken or underway at…

2016 NSAPS Panel 2 – Victim-Centered Approaches

The National Institute of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted “Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium” on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington D.C. The audience learned how first responders such as medical staff, victims’ advocates,…

2016 NSAPS Panel 1 – Immediate Aftermath of Sexual Assault

The National Institute of Justice, through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted “Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium” on September 8-9, 2016, in Washington D.C. This panel provided an overview of how a traumatic event like sexual…