Drug-facilitated sexual assault cases can be difficult to prosecute. With victim’s testimony being suspect, cases relying solely on victim’s testimony practically have reasonable doubt built in. It is therefore necessary to substantiate victim’s claims with physical evidence. Difficulties can arise when a suspect claims that they have consent, and the victim has incomplete memory of the incident due to the presence of drugs in his/her system.
Several issues present, all of which must be proven to win a prosecution: First, was the ingestion of drugs voluntary? (if it was, this does not necessarily rule out sexual assault) Was consent given without the witness’ memory? Did the incident even occur? Rape kits can form the nucleus of a good case based on physical evidence. Trauma to effected areas, such as vaginal bruising or tearing, or anal rearing can substantiate a claim of use of force. Blood work is equally important.
The presence of certain drugs in the victim’s system can substantiate a claim. Physical evidence of force can also be documented. Ligature marks on wrists, ankles or neck may indicate binding or force. Obviously, the presence of the suspect’s pubic hair, semen, or other transfer evidence in or on the victim and his/her clothing can offer substantiating evidence. Trauma to other parts of the body of the victim can also substantiate the claim of a struggle.
On the other side of the issue, scratch marks and other physical damage to the suspect can also substantiate a struggle. Trace evidence transfer can also lead to the suspect’s clothing containing DNA or hairs of the alleged victim. Given the fact that most sexual assault cases have only the victim’s testimony to substantiate them, the gathering of corroborating physical evidence is of paramount importance.