Being accused of committing a date rape offense can have devastating consequences to an individual’s liberty, reputation, education, and employment opportunities. These crimes are always highly publicized, making the defendant appear guilty before ever stepping foot in the courtroom.
However, prosecutors are reluctant to take cases that appear to be un-winnable. The following are five reasons why prosecutors experience difficulty proving rape cases.
#1: Words Don’t Equal Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
In many date rape cases, there are only two witnesses to the crime – the victim and the defendant. When a trial comes down to he-said-she-said, the skill sets of the opposing lawyers can be the determining factor between innocence and guilt.
Furthermore, rape victims can be unreliable witnesses, and some jurors think all rape victims should act a specific way. If the victim doesn’t cry enough tears or express dismay, the jurors could consider the person capable of making up the story of the alleged assault.
#2: Skepticism among Jurors
People hold multiple ideas about the motives women have to fabricate rape accusations. While statistics point out that almost a quarter of all college women students have been sexually assaulted, some people are skeptical of any groundless sexual assault claim. According to national statistics, female jurors over the age of 35 years old are the toughest demographic for prosecutors in rape cases because they are often harsh judges of sexual assault victims.
#3: The SVU/CSI Effect
When women report rape, law enforcement typically has them submitted to a medical rape examination by a trained nurse. Contrary to popular belief, these medical exams rarely provide any evidence as to whether consensual or non-consensual sexual intercourse occurred. Jurors often want evidence of physical injury, demonstrating the victim’s lack of resistance and the accused rapist’s lack of force.
#4: Delayed Report
Rape victims often feel scared or ashamed, which can lead to delay in reporting the crime. Many jurors and judges see the delay as time for the victim to fabricate the story and the motive of the crime. A time lapse in reporting a sexual assault typically destroys a victim’s credibility due to hesitation, as well as the loss of forensic and medical evidence which could’ve helped the victim’s story.
#5: The Myth of Date Rape Drugs
Studies have shown that rape victims hardly test positive for Rohypnol (roofies), ketamine, or GHB. In addition, the prosecution for date rape cases is more weakened when there is evidence of alcohol and voluntarily used, recreational drugs present at the time of the crime. In many cases, sexual assault victims who test positive for cannabis, amphetamines, and MDMA do not admit to drug use.