Detective Lieutenant Barry M. Baker (ret.) is a 32 year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department
The rape report is different from other crime reports. Every one is unique, and it requires your best investigative efforts. When a police officer submits a poorly written robbery report with grammatical errors and misstatements, the officer looks stupid. When a police officer submits a similarly written rape report, the officer looks really stupid.
I once reviewed a rape report written by a female officer. In the narrative, the officer wrote, “The victim reports the suspect penetrated her vagina with his penis,” (so far so good) “and the suspect came.” CAME? Not good…not good at all.
When you write a rape report, or any sexual assault report, you’re going to use uncomfortable words. Those include words like penis; vagina; anus; ejaculate; fellatio; cunnilingus, masturbate, erection, etc. Never use slang (…remember CAME) or colloquial terms when describing sex acts or body parts associated with sexual acts.
When Proper Terms Won’t Do
Your concern with using proper terms ends when it comes time to document statements made by the suspect. The rapist’s exact words can be just as important, sometimes more so, as how he commits the rape.
It doesn’t matter how insulting, offensive, or vile a suspect’s statements to a victim may be. It is important that the victim relate those statements to you in the suspect’s exact words for the rape report
You might point out that asking the victim to repeat such offensive statements could produce more trauma for the victim. If that is the case, simply ask the victim to write the suspect’s statements. Explain to the victim the importance of accurately documenting all aspects of the crime.
The Rapist is like any Other Criminal – He’ll have an MO
A rapist isn’t different from any other criminal when it comes to establishing a method of operation (MO). The rapist may escalate his level of violence over time, but the way he talks will remain pretty constant. You should write your rape report while thinking about another officer reading your report in the future. That police officer could momentarily think, “that’s the same rape I’m investigating.”
The narrative of a rape report can become pretty graphic. Your narrative could read like a chapter from a pornographic novel, but a rape is what it is. It is a vicious sexual assault, and your description of the event must be accurate and comprehensive.
Listing a Weapon Used in your Rape Report
I’m making a big deal on this, because you’re going to see it often. In fact, you’d possibly be susceptible to this error were you not reading this.
A weapon is a gun, knife, blunt object, or any identifiable object that by its physical composition is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death.
The rape report, like all of your report formats, is going to have a field (box) to list a weapon used. When you take a report of a robbery where the suspect displays no weapon, the weapon used is “none.” However, when it comes to a rape report, some officers get temporarily stuck on stupid. When no weapon is displayed during the rape, some officers will list “penis” as the weapon used.
Listing “penis” as a weapon will not damage your case. It will give the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, jurors, or anyone else, a good laugh at your expense.
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