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Image of the Virginia AG Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING ADDRESSES NORTHERN VA LAW ENFORCEMENT AT SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATION TRAINING CONFERENCE

~ As part of his continuing work to address sexual and domestic violence, AG Herring and partners hosted law enforcement and prosecutors for a training on handling the 70% of sexual assault cases committed by a non-stranger ~

 

 

FAIRFAX(May 16, 2018) – Today, Attorney General Mark R. Herring addressed Northern Virginia law enforcement officials and prosecutors during a Non-Stranger Sexual Assault Investigations Training Conference co-hosted by the Office of Attorney General, Fairfax County Police Department Victim Services Section, and Inova Ewing Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (FACT). The conference is part of Attorney General Herring’s ongoing efforts to improve the way Virginia works to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence, including a $3.4 million project to completely eliminate Virginia’s backlog of untested rape kits.

 

The four-day conference focused on implementing a trauma-informed and survivor-centered approach to sexual assault investigations, especially the 70% of sexual assaults that are committed by someone known to the victim. Attendees learned about the way trauma can impact the brain, memory, recall, and emotions, trauma-informed victim interviewing techniques, ways to build better relationships with underserved communities, and even ways that technology and social media can be used in investigations. Approximately 125 law enforcement officials and prosecutors participated in the training conference, representing Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Fauquier, Fredericksburg, George Mason University, Herndon, Leesburg, Loudoun, Manassas, Marymount University, Metropolitan Police Department, Northern Virginia Community College, Prince William, Virginia State Police, Warren and Warrenton.

 

“As Attorney General I’m trying to change the culture around sexual and domestic violence and ensure that survivors feel comfortable coming forward for help,” said Attorney General Herring. “We know that the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and we know that sexual assault is generally a serial crime, with a single perpetrator often committing multiple offenses. The first interaction a survivor has with the criminal justice system can make a huge impact on his or her path toward healing and whether or not they choose to pursue charges, which is why it’s so important that we engage survivors the right way and build the strongest cases possible using the latest, most effective trauma-informed, survivor-centered investigation techniques.”

 

Attorney General Herring has previously hosted a “cold case investigations” training for Virginia law enforcement to assist them in re-investigating those cases that produce “hits” as part of the rape kit backlog elimination project.

 

The first phase of the PERK testing project – for kits collected pre-2014 – remains ongoing, with approximately 1,800 of the 2,000 pre-2014 kits having gone to the lab for testing. Approximately 262 DNA profiles have been uploaded into CODIS, the national DNA database, resulting in at least 92 matches to known profiles. The first phase is supported by a $1.4 million grant from the Manhattan District Attorney’s $38 million initiative to test 56,000 PERKs in more than 20 states.

 

The second phase of testing – for kits collected between 2014 and 2016 – is supported by a $2 million federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant secured in January 2016. Following a months-long effort to contact every law enforcement agency in Virginia, during which OAG secured 100% participation from agencies, an additional 1,247 kits were identified that will be sent for testing, though this number remains subject to some revision and confirmation by the SAKI program. Testing on these kits is currently under way, as well.

 

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