Friday, March 06, 2009

Police Decision Not To Process Rape Kit After Confession Leads To Acquittal On Primary Charges

From the Pocono Record:

After nearly three hours of deliberation, a jury Thursday acquitted Adam Ellis, 39, of sexual offenses against a minor, but convicted him of corrupting minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. The verdict ended a two-day trial.

Ellis had been accused of having sexual contact in August with a girl who was 14 at the time. The alleged sexual contact happened in the girl's mom's apartment in Snowshoe Condominiums in Mount Pocono. [...]

A rape kit was performed on the girl after the incident. Police testified they saw no need to send the rape kit out for forensic analysis or test for DNA evidence because Ellis by that time had confessed to having sexual contact with the girl.

Presented with contradicting stories and no physical evidence, the jury acquitted Ellis on the sexual offenses. He will be sentenced at a future date on the charges on which he was convicted.

It's unclear whether any jurors were interviewed to see if the unprocessed rape kit contributed to the charges where Ellis was found not guilty. It's important to note that if she was unconscious or only semi-conscious then performing a sex act on her is more than having sexual contact with a 14 year old. It is rape and that wouldn't change if she were 19 as Ellis claimed was the age she gave him.

If Ellis wasn't charged with sexual assault and only charged with statutory offenses because the prosecution didn't believe they had sufficient evidence to prove non-consent they could send a strong message to the jury that the contact should be treated as consensual even if it was in no way consensual. Once that happened then the unprocessed rape kit could take on a meaning that the prosecution and the police didn't intend.

This case shows that even when someone confesses to a key portion of the allegation, and identification of the suspect isn't an issue, that if there is a rape kit it needs to be processed. That may be a tough sell to many law enforcement agencies in tough economic times, but if they are serious about fighting sexual violence they need to spend the money to get the forensic evidence processed.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:58 AM   0 comments links to this post


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