The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) leads a comprehensive federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault investigations. These practices are delivered to sexual assault 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. 

Several recent federally sponsored round table discussions and forums have identified gaps in education and policies governing sexual assault response. In 2014, the FTCoE coordinated a comprehensive Federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners, and collaborative sexual assault response teams (SANE/SAFE/SART). The goal of this effort was to ensure that existing research, information, and best practices were being made available to the entire community. The initiative included several forum meetings, and is summarized in this final report. The FTCOE will continue to support efforts to lessen gaps and address needs identified in the report. 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.


To discover how the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is addressing sexual assault, check out the videos below.

Members from the Nevada Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Working Group describe the importance of using multidisciplinary, victim-centered approach in addressing complex issues that arise while responding to sexual assault. The team also describes the importance of utilizing available resources, including research and federal support from the NIJ, in making progress towards processing untested sexual assault kits.

Published September 8, 2016

NIJ Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences Director Gerald LaPorte and Deputy Director Heather Waltke, along with Heather LaSalle, Forensic Examiner, DNA Casework Unit, and Tina Delgado, Chief, Biometrics Division from the FBI Laboratory discuss how scientific advances can help jurisdictions process a large number of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.

To learn more about NIJ’s work on sexual assault issues, please click here.

Published February 17, 2016

Opinions or points of view expressed represent the speaker and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any product or manufacturer discussed is presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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 interdisciplinary professionals is essential. Unfortunately, these professionals speak very different professional languages using terminology from the legal, medical and forensic science disciplines, sometimes interchangeably. To develop this glossary, CFNEI engaged with multidisciplinary subject matter experts who contributed to developing the terms list, writing associated definitions, and reviewing the multidisciplinary terminology/definitions. A consensus model was used to clarify ambiguous terms or terms with opposing definitions found in the literature and/or reference materials. This project served to create a resource that can be used to help bridge language related communication gaps and potential miscommunication associated with discipline specific terminology.

Currently, the glossary contains over 3400 terms and over 340 acronyms, synonyms, and variations.

The FTCoE and CFNEI will continue to update the glossary, import terms into the searchable index, and will ensured that definitions are compliant with the FBI quality assurance standards to maintain consistency in federal documents. The Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary is intended to be living document in support of the entire community. Everyone is invited to submit terms they would like to see included, so take a moment to do so at the bottom of the glossary webpage. The glossary can be accessed through the FTCoE and CFNEI websites, and soon through a mobile application.

Click here to access the Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary


The Center for Forensic Nursing Excellence International (CFNEI) is a solutions oriented organization. We partner with groups, communities, businesses, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to create innovative, relevant, and cost-effective solutions and services. Through these partnerships, we engage in forensic nursing and multidisciplinary education, clinical forensic and legal consultation, research collaboration, product development and other related services for professionals responding to the needs of populations affected by violence/trauma/disaster.

Rachell Ekroos, Ph.D.
CEO and Founder of CFNEI

Dr. Ekroos is committed to achieving excellence through innovative strategies and best practices. Through her analytical approach to solution development, Dr. Ekroos has enacted effective strategies across diverse business models including for profit, non-profit, educational and government agencies. Her solutions driven processes take into consideration strategic goals, resources, stakeholder interests, best practices, unintended consequences and system wide implications. She is a self-motivated professional with extensive advanced practice and multidisciplinary experience serving populations affected by health disparities, violence, and systematic barriers to services.

Having served as a clinical resource and consultant to numerous organizations and government entities, Dr. Ekroos currently contributes as an adviser/subject matter expert on local, regional, and national committees. She is a respected executive leader whose work is grounded in the core values of personal, professional, and organizational integrity, accountability and respect for persons. These values can be seen in her lifelong commitment to addressing disparate care practices, promoting health across the life cycle, providing quality educational opportunities, and serving as a dynamic organizational leader.

Upcoming Workshops

There are currently no upcoming workshops related to sexual assault reform. Please click on the “Resources” tab for information on upcoming and past online webinars.

Past Events

Navigating the Sea of Resources for Sexual Assault Programs
February 14, 2017  |  New Orleans, Louisiana

The FTCoE hosted this workshop at the American Academy of Forensic Science Meeting (AAFS) in New Orleans, Louisiana. This workshop highlighted how federal resources in the United States can advance victim-centered support programs, investigations, and forensic services that aid sexual assault programs, especially the processing of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) and forensic evidence which bolster the criminal justice process. [Click here to read more]

Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium
September 8-9, 2016  |  Washington, DC

Through the FTCoE, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) hosted Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium. The symposium focused on how the nation is moving forward and finding solutions to the complex issues that arise in sexual assault cases and in testing sexual assault evidence. This unprecedented event, which featured an array of stakeholders including medical staff, law enforcement, crime laboratories, victims’ advocates, and prosecution, highlighted current accomplishments and shared valuable experiences from jurisdictions throughout the country. The goal of the event was to support our nation’s policymakers and practitioners as they drive future efforts to solve sexual assault cases, provide justice to victims, and ultimately improve public health and public safety. [Click here to read more and access archived content]

Sexual Assault on Campus: Investigation, Prosecution, Title IX and the Role of Forensic Nursing
May 1, 2015  |  Duquesne University

Although as many as one in five female college students will be sexually assaulted during her undergraduate career, less than 5% of completed or attempted rapes against college women are reported to law enforcement, and reported assailants receive little or no punishment from their schools’ judicial systems. Nearly one year after the White House issued “Not Alone,” a report on steps colleges should take to address sexual assaults, and after the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights unveiled a list of 55 schools under investigation for possible Title IX violations, the FTCoE hosted this symposium in collaboration with the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University. [Click here to read more and access archived content]

Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices
January-September 2014

The FTCoE coordinated a comprehensive Federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners, and collaborative sexual assault response teams (SANE/SAFE/SART). This FTCoE effort focused on systemic challenges that impede the investigation of criminal sexual assaults in the United States, with goals that include creating an awareness of resources and ensuring that existing research, information, knowledge, and best practices are available and accessible to SANE/SAFE/SART and other practitioners who contribute to the nation’s response to sexual assault. [Click here to read more and access archived content]

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Workshop
August 11-12, 2014  |  Washington, DC

The FTCoE hosted a two-day workshop on drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) in conjunction with the Society of Forensic Toxicologists continuing Education and Drug-facilitated Crimes Committees with the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. This workshop included lectures on the investigation and prosecution of DFSA cases, alcohol and memory, and the various drugs used to facilitate sexual assault. [Click here to read more and access archived content]


The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) is committed to organizing and transferring knowledge and best practices of sexual assault. The FTCoE hosts several webinars and events and publishes reports that address the various challenges surrounding sexual assault in the United States.

Upcoming Webinars

Click here to register for upcoming and archived webinars in our current series on Improving Sexual Assault Response within Special Populations.


Collaboration Enhances Trauma-Informed Response to Sexual Assault Survivors
Neurophysiology and Overcoming Trauma: Understanding Individual Challenges
Surviving Sexual Assault – It Takes A Village
The Time to Collect is Now: DNA Evidence in Groping Sexual Assault Cases
Investigating Sexual Assault of Elder Victims
Responding to Sexual Assault Victims of Color
Advancing Research Initiatives and Combatting the Human Trafficking Epidemic
Providing Gender Inclusive Care to Victims of Sexual Assault
Best Practices in Sexual Assault Cases
2016 NIJ R&D Series: Forensic Biology & DNA
Interpretation of Lubricant Evidence

ASCLD Webinar Series  |  Confronting Crime Laboratory Backlogs: Causes, Solutions, Expectations

Managing Customer Expectations and Education
Case Acceptance Policies and Guidelines
Efficiency Improvements
How to Increase your Staff without Increasing Budget
Developing a Statewide Approach to Backlog Management

Policy Forums

Crime Lab Backlogs: The Impact on Justice
Investigating Sexual Violence

Archived Workshops and Symposia

To access an archived event recording, please click on the event below.
To learn more about an event, please visit the Workshops tab above.

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Workshop |  March 2014
Sexual Assault on Campus and Forensic Nursing Symposium  |  March 2016

Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium  |  September 2016

Panel 1 – Immediate Aftermath of Sexual Assault
Panel 2 – Victim-Centered Approaches to Sexual Assault First Response
Panel 3 – Investigating Sexual Assault – Lessons Learned and Promising Practices
Panel 4 – Legislative Reform – Addressing Sexual Assault across the Nation
Panel 5 – The Role of Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases
Panel 6 – An Unbelievable Story of Rape
Panel 7 – Testing Sexual Assault Evidence
Panel 8 – Building an Efficient Laboratory
Panel 9 – Funding and Resources to Solve Sexual Assault Cases
Panel 10 – Using Multidisciplinary Collaboration to Improve Sexual Assault Response

Organizing SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices

Federal Stakeholder Meeting  |  May 2014
Practitioner Stakeholder Meeting  |  July 2014
Policy and Practice Forum  |  September 2014


To access and learn more about a report, please click on the report below.
Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices  |  November 2014


2018 National SAKI TTA Grantees Meeting   |  March 2018
FTCoE Sexual Assault Initiatives Presentation