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Professor Ann Burgess & Jill Hoexter, Esq. Practical Issues: Preparing and Prosecuting Elder Sexual Assault Cases

Professor Ann Burgess & Jill Hoexter, Esq. Practical Issues: Preparing and Prosecuting Elder Sexual Assault Cases

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Published by Legal Momentum
Providing legal services to elder victims of sexual violence is a unique challenge to a large number of professionals from various disciplines. The prosecution process involves a multi-disciplinary effort including prosecutors, rape crisis center staff, protective service workers, law enforcement officers, medical and nursing personnel. Issues involving competency, medical care and trauma, can arise in cases where the victim is over the age of 60 and are especially important when bringing such cases to court. To improve the chances for a successful prosecution, it is imperative that professionals recognize and act to minimize potential concerns inherent in the prosecution of cases involving elder victims of sexual assault. This booklet will explore obstacles to prosecution and offer practical solutions for professionals involved in cases of elder sexual abuse.
Providing legal services to elder victims of sexual violence is a unique challenge to a large number of professionals from various disciplines. The prosecution process involves a multi-disciplinary effort including prosecutors, rape crisis center staff, protective service workers, law enforcement officers, medical and nursing personnel. Issues involving competency, medical care and trauma, can arise in cases where the victim is over the age of 60 and are especially important when bringing such cases to court. To improve the chances for a successful prosecution, it is imperative that professionals recognize and act to minimize potential concerns inherent in the prosecution of cases involving elder victims of sexual assault. This booklet will explore obstacles to prosecution and offer practical solutions for professionals involved in cases of elder sexual abuse.

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: Legal Momentum on May 29, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/29/2013

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Practical Issues:
Preparing and Prosecuting Elder Sexual Assault Cases
 
Practical Issues:Preparing and ProsecutingPreparing and ProsecutingElder SeElder Sexual Assault Casesxual Assault Cases
P
roviding legal services to elder victims of sexualviolence is a unique challenge to a large number of professionals from various disciplines. The prosecution process involves a multi-disciplinaryeffort including prosecutors, rape crisis center staff, protective service workers, law enforcement officers,medical and nursing personnel. Issues involvingcompetency, medical care and trauma, can arise incases where the victim is over the age of 60 and areespecially important when bringing such cases tocourt. To improve the chances for a successful prosecution, it is imperative that professionalsrecognize and act to minimize potential concernsinherent in the prosecution of cases involving elder victims of sexual assault. This booklet will exploreobstacles to prosecution and offer practical solutionsfor professionals involved in cases of elder sexualabuse.
 Note: Throughout this booklet, the authors refer to elder victims as female and their perpetrators as male becauseresearch shows most victims are female and most perpe-trators male. This is not to say that elder men arenot victims or women are not perpetrators of sexual violence.
1Only one out of four casesof elder abuse is reportedand sexual abuse is believedto be the least reportedtype of elder victimization
 
2
Underreporting
The Witness
Initial Hurdle:Initial Hurdle:UnderreportingUnderreporting
The initial hurdle to bringing a case of elder sexualassault to court is the underreporting of the crime.Research clearly indicates that the majority of elder sexual assault cases are not reported. Older victimsare highly unlikely to report the crime-much moreso than younger victims. Only one out of four casesof elder abuse is reported, and sexual abuse is believed to be the least reported type of elder victimization.
1
Reasons for underreporting, includeshame, fear, lack of knowledge, doubt andcognitive impairment. If an elder sexual abusecase is never brought to the attention of lawenforcement, there can be no prosecution.
The Reluctant WThe Reluctant Witnessitness
When elder sexual abuse is reported, the reporter isoften someone other than the victim: a friend or family member, a nurse who witnessed the abuse,or another health care professional who recognizedthe signs of rape through vaginal bleeding or other trauma. Victims may be apprehensive about pressing charges against the perpetrator. The elder victim may appear uncooperative because she doesnot trust the service provider. In the eyes of theelder victim the professional conducting theinterview, whether it is the district attorney,advocate or police officer, is a stranger with whomshe may feel uncomfortable discussing the detailsof sexual assault.

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