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Broadly; VICE Media LLC. | Utah State Student Allegedly Raped Four Women—and Never Faced Any Punishment
(07/26/2016) Later in 2015, three other women accused Catherine's alleged attacker of sexually assaulting them in a similar manner, and during that time Olsen declined to mention Catherine's complaints from January. In fact, the accused man called Olsen after the second incident, afraid another report would be filed, but the detective promised him, "We're not going to look back and look at your past because we already investigated that and that isn't going to play a role in this investigation."
But John Wilkinson, an attorney advisor with AEquitas: The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women, and a former prosecutor, tells Broadly previous reports should absolutely be used in sexual assault investigations. "Any time there's a report of sexual assault, and then a subsequent report, particularly when they're contemporaneous, that's going to be a big red flag," he says.
"Every time you get a report of sexual assault, you should be thinking, Serial offender," he adds, noting that some studies have shown repeat offenders are more common than non-serial sex offenders. "Since rape is not about sex—it's about power, control, fear, terror, and things like that—if that's what someone is aroused by, it's likely they're going to seek it again and again."
Wilkinson says that, even without a prior report, investigators should still want to look into a person's background. When there is a prior incident, according to him, "You're going to want to look into both cases."
The police aren't the only ones who should look into these cases, though. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits federally-funded schools from discriminating based on sex, and it mandates that students have the right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment or assault.
A representative from USU's SAAVI Office told the Tribune that the school's Title IX office frequently "holds off on investigating until law enforcement is done." Wilkinson, however, tells Broadly that schools are "required to move forward with their own investigation," but that really what should happen is a coordinated investigation.
"The best approach to work with a sex assault response team (SART), where all the players work in a coordinated fashion and not doing anything that negatively impacts the victim," he says. "A typical team would include a prosecutor, the police, medical responders, advocacy, and in certain cases local campuses." He says that sexual assault cases are some of the hardest to try, which is why "you want to leave no stone unturned."
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