Friday, June 26, 2009

DNA From Domestic Assault Solves Cold Rape Case

From This is hull and east riding UK:

Detectives fear a sex attacker who was caught after 18 years could have struck many times before. They have taken the step of releasing police mug shots of Paul Dook so potential victims can identify him and come forward.

The 45-year-old, of Green Lane, Burton Pidsea, was convicted for raping a 22-year-old woman in 1991 after a jury at Hull Crown Court took just one hour to find him guilty. [...]

Det Sgt Watts said: "The DNA database was only built up after 1995 and he slipped through the net when he committed the indecent assault in 1995. His DNA was taken following the domestic assault in 2006 and even though no further action was taken, it remained on the system. Without his DNA remaining on the system, we would have never found out who he was."

I've heard people call for a change to the DNA database which would have removed Dook's DNA from the database once the investigation became inactive. This case highlights the serious consequences of any proposed change which is marketed as a measure to protect the innocent when those who are labeled as innocent have not in fact been proven factually innocent.

Those who are guilty aren't always prosecuted and they aren't always convicted even if they are prosecuted. Purging their records from the DNA database or other databases will protect serial offenders.

For example, with a 6.5% UK conviction rate for rape, a lack of conviction doesn't communicate anything about the lack of validity of the 93.5% of the rape reports. However, there is evidence that this low rate of convictions is caused at least in part by serious problems in how the initial reports are handled. Much of this comes down to bigotry against those who report which can be expressed by assumptions about the alleged victim's lack of credibility or an immediate assumption that the report is false.

This case happened in the UK, but it highlights why all reports of violence should be investigated fully. Unfortunately, many reports of domestic assault and sexual assault in different jurisdictions are not investigated at all and some may not be filed properly by investigators. This can happen because of investigator bigotry or it can happen because of assumptions that certain cases cannot be successfully prosecuted.

Rape victims who know their rapists are too often rebuffed when they attempt to file police reports and officials may never know if additional victims of Dook tried to file police reports and were effectively rebuffed from doing so. Some investigators will assume that an assault was no big deal simply because of the relationship between the person being accused and the person trying to file a police report. But physical and sexual assaults are a big deal even when those who committed those assaults aren't strangers.

Many of the same issues exist in domestic violence cases so it is important to keep relevant information which has been collected unless it's been proven that the information was collected based on a fraudulent report. Acquittals are not proof that the original report was fraudulent. Neither is an investigator's statement of belief.

There may be many more cases which can be solved in this way and it is important that those who see that as a bad outcome aren't allowed to use the excuse of, "We are trying to protect the innocent," as a way to protect the guilty.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:32 AM   2 comments links to this post


At July 06, 2009 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be some confusion. According to the article, the perpetrator's name is Paul Dook. Burton Pidsea is the name of the town/area where he is from.

At July 06, 2009 12:08 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Thanks for catching my mistake. I've corrected the post accordingly.


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