Sexual assault is a traumatizing event, leaving a devastating, long-term impact on the victim. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports, the majority of victims still do not report their assault to law enforcement1. The reasons for lack of reporting varies, but one study by Du Mont, J. et al. identified the following mutual reasons.2
• Guilt or self-blame
• Embarrassment, shame or humiliation – prefer to keep the assault a private matter
• Fear of the perpetrator or not being believed
• Distrust in the criminal justice system
The decision to report the crime is entirely up to the victim, but whether they choose to report the crime or not, they often undergo a long and tedious forensic medical examination in order to safely preserve potential DNA evidence – all in the hope that it can help bring the perpetrator(s) to justice one day.
Even with forensic DNA testing becoming the gold standard in sexual assault cases, a large number of victims often do not receive the necessary closure due to the inconclusive results from challenging mixtures, degraded or low levels of DNA, and presence of inhibitors. Samples often contain mixtures of body fluids from the victim and perpetrator(s), and frequently the accused argues for a legitimate reason for his DNA being present on the victim (e.g. skin cells from a handshake, rather than sperm cells from sexual activity). Therefore, it is often crucial to identify the tissue source, as sperm cells can be separated from female cellular material or epithelial cells, improving cell mixture deconvolution. DNA evidence has the power to identify the assailant(s), but effective identification of the sperm, sample lysis and careful separation are essential!
A complete DNA profile can help accurately discriminate between different individuals, by matching profiles against potential suspects or a DNA database. However, the success of forensic DNA profiling can be ensured only by following a sensitive and precise quantification of total human and male DNA, and degradation assessment of both male and total human DNA. Based on such information, forensic examiners can decide whether further sample purification is needed.
QIAGEN offers an enhanced workflow to overcome challenges that can impede successful completion of necessary casework, maximizing information generated on each sexual assault sample and stacking the odds in favor of justice.
• Streamline your workflow by automating differential separation on the QIAcube
• Improve decision making by quantifying samples using the Investigator Quantiplex Pro RGQ Kit
• Identify sperm and semen with confidence using the PyroMark Q48 Autoprep
Learn more about our integrated sexual assault solutions. There is hope in the future!