What Testing 5,000 Backlogged Rape Kits Just Told Us About Rapists

PHOTOGRAPHED BY DANNY KIM. PROP-STYLED BY SONIA RENTSCH.
The testing of almost 5,000 backlogged rape kits in Cuyahoga County, Ohio is shedding light on important differences between one-time and serial rapists — and has led to 250 convictions so far.

Funded by a grant from Ohio's Department of Justice, researchers from Case Western Reserve University teamed up with the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force in 2014 to begin testing 4,800 backlogged rape kits from sexual assaults committed between 1993 and 2010. The researchers sought justice for forgotten and ignored survivors, as well as insight into how sexual assault is committed and prosecuted.

"The experience of collecting a rape kit is invasive and especially so right after a victim has been traumatically assaulted," Rachel Lovell, co-leader of the research project, said in a statement. "These victims did what they have been asked to do to preserve evidence — but that evidence just sat, untested. The new processes we hope will emerge from our effort will better honor victims." Already, the project has led to the indictment of 462 defendants implicated in over 500 sexual assaults. Of cases that have been completed, 92% have led to convictions, with an average sentence of 10 years.

The team is making substantial progress on the research side as well. A few key discoveries from the early findings it released yesterday:
Serial rapists make up a large group of all rapists. Of the 243 sexual assaults the research project studied, 51% were committed by serial sexual assaulters.

The majority of both serial and one-time rapists committed a felony-level crime before committing sexual assault — and then committed another afterward. Of serial rapists studied, 74% had at least one prior felony arrest (26% had a prior arrest specifically for sexual assault) and 95% had a subsequent felony arrest (60% had a subsequent arrest specifically for sexual assault). Of one-time rapists, 51% had a prior felony arrest and 78% had a subsequent one.

Serial and one-time rapists behave differently during their attacks. While serial rapists were more likely than one-time rapists to kidnap and verbally and physically threaten victims, they were less likely to restrain or injure victims during their attacks. Serial rapists commit more rapes outdoors or in cars, while one-time rapists attack in homes: their own, the homes of their victims, or the homes of third parties.

One-time offenders are more likely to be acquaintances of their victims than are serial offenders — but a third of serial rapists assaulted both strangers and acquaintances. "This underscores the need to thoroughly investigate acquaintance rapes, because of the possibility those offenders have or will engage in assaults against strangers, too," the report states.
Advertisement
Sexual assault is one of the least-reported crimes: According to RAINN, 68% of sexual assaults go unreported, and 97 out of 100 rapists never see a day in jail. It's vital that when survivors do come forward, it's not in vain, and the evidence they provide is taken seriously — not only in Cuyahoga County but everywhere.
Advertisement

More from Body

Ragazzi mi state seguendo in tanti e vorrei ringraziarvi e scusarmi se non riesco a rispondere a tutti...vi proprio ho una foto che mi ricorda tutte ...
Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
Breast-feeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it doesn't always come as naturally as we might assume. And, as one viral photo shows, ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
Last week, Kelly Stanley was breast-feeding her 9-month-old baby during dinner when someone else at her table decided to grab a cloth napkin and try to ...
Periods may be annoying, but at least they're predictable — sort of. If yours is a little delayed this cycle, and you're not trying to get pregnant right ...
It sustains life. It boosts immunity. It may or may not taste like the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms. (Full disclosure: I sampled mine just ...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
Gina Rodriguez is the master of keeping it real. She's been open about everything from losing her virginity to coping with thyroid disease, so it makes ...
When you see your friend's adorable baby, your first instinct, understandably, is probably to hug and kiss her all over. However, you might want to think ...
Two years ago, Ericka Hart was about to walk into a Sephora in Lower Manhattan when she looked down at her ringing phone, and stopped right there on Wall...
Eve Torres Gracie, former WWE wrestler and current very dangerous person, posted a moving Instagram photo of her post-baby body today. Inspired by the ...
In an interview for People's Mom Talk video series, model and actress Molly Sims opened up about suffering through a thyroid problem that went ...
When I think about the aspect of sex that has made me most anxious over the course of my seven years of sexual activity so far, it’s not the risk of ...