Prosecuting Cold Case Sexual Assault: The Dallas County Experience


(Leighton D’Antoni)
I think especially
in this day and age, where it’s so important
for us to re-establish trust with our community
that we serve. You know, we understand
that this is our job– we serve a community. It’s important to make everybody feel
like we are working for them. Nobody deserves to be raped. (Alex Guio)
The dynamics of a
sexual assault case are unlike any other case
I’d ever worked on. You are battling
misconceptions in society. You are battling how some kind
of evidence may be processed. You are having challenges
with your victim and having to help them through
a traumatic experience. And really, they relive it
over and over throughout this entire process. (John Wakefield)
Of the four major crimes
it’s the hardest. I’ve worked murder, robbery,
ag assaults, child abuse. By far, sexual assault crimes
are the hardest to prove, and so the DNA evidence is very,
very important, pertinent. (Amy Derrick)
I would hope that once–
not just Dallas, but all of us
across the nation– start getting really hard numbers, that we’ll be able to show, just on a national level
what we already know, which is, they don’t just
stop with one victim, and they don’t only
commit sexual assault. They commit lots of
other types of crimes. And that this really
is a national issue on a larger level
than just sexual assault. It is a crime issue
that reaches out in all sorts
of different ways. (Leighton D’Antoni)
Going into each kit, pulling these police reports, having to read
the police reports and, you know, make sure
everything lines up so that we know that what
we’re sending off to the lab is a viable sexual assault
kit that was never tested. We have to put
in our leg work to make sure that
the money is used wisely, so that we’re getting results. And out of the first,
you know, kits that we submitted, we’re getting amazing results. You know, just in the first
three months of this year I indicted six defendants, not just for getting hits
on sexual assault kits, but serial rapists. We’ve found that most
of these offenders– and the studies have
been showing for years– that if you’ve committed
a sexual assault, you know, you’re
likely to repeat it, and you’ve probably
been doing it for awhile, because it is such a
difficult crime to prosecute. Offenders think they’ve
been getting away with it. I just tried somebody
who had 23 victims. (John Wakefield)
But because of BJA
and the SAKI Initiative it’s given us a means,
an opportunity to go back, get these kits tested,
get some results back, get the DNA evidence,
and, like I said, carry this case
all the way through to a successful prosecution. And I have no doubt–we’ve
seen evidence of it already– that you’re going to see a lot
of serial rapists out there– multiple victims–and
that is so, so important to get those people identified
and get them incarcerated. (Alex Guio)
Now what we’re discovering
more and more each day, is that, it’s not just money–
it’s guidance, it’s resources, it’s–just the connections
that we need to be able to
reach out and say, “Hey, we’ve hit a road-block “that we didn’t think
we were going to go across, you know, how can
we get past it?” And so I think the SAKI grant
has provided all of that, for us to be able to
handle this huge task. (John Wakefield)
I would not be
in my position, my assigned position,
without the SAKI grant. (Amy Derrick)
Going out and being able
to get justice for that person, and to put these people away
who need to be put away so that they can’t
harm someone else, is why I’m a prosecutor
in the first place. (Leighton D’Antoni)
And so, for years people
have been getting away with it, and it’s time to
put an end to that. And I think, you know, our
mission here is to make sure that, “Hey, you raped
somebody in Dallas “and thought you
got away with it? Think again.”

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