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Nov 30

By H. Michael Steinberg  – Colorado Sex Crimes Sex Assault Criminal Defense Lawyer

The High Cost Of Political Correctness In The Colorado Criminal Justice System

New Denver Colorado Sexual Assault Response "Protocols" Victims Are Believed No Matter What

New Denver Colorado Sexual Assault Response “Protocols” Victims Are Believed No Matter What

Under New Denver Colorado Sexual Assault Response “Protocols” Victims Are Believed No Matter What – No longer satisfied with the term “victim” – alleged victims of sexual assault now ware called the more politically correct, “survivor.”  The new protocols across the state of Colorado not only no longer presume the defendant innocent – today the alleged “survivor” is presumed to be telling the truth. 

 The swing of the political pendulum to the right on behalf of the alleged victims of sexual assault has gone from reasonable to absurd.  These new protocols have nothing to do with attacking the victim during a trial for her prior sexual history, this has to do with not questioning her account in any fashion and believing what she has to say at every level at the investigation stage (LINK) of a sexual assault case. 

In short, treating the alleged victim of a sexual assault differently than ANY OTHER ALLEGED VICTIM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

New Denver Colorado Sexual Assault Response “Protocols” Victims Are Believed No Matter What – A Protocol Gone Wrong

For the last 30 years, during which time I have been practicing Colorado criminal law – both as a career prosecutor (the first 13 years) and a criminal defense lawyer (the last 17 years) I have watched as Colorado has stepped up “victim protection” by developing policies and laws such as the Domestic Violence Mandatory Arrest Policy, the Sex Offender Management Standards, the Crime Victim Compensation Act (1981) and the Victim Rights Amendment (1992). Many of these laws and policies make sense.

This protocol does not.

Instead of testing the credibility of the alleged victim of a sexual assault – as you would any alleged victim of a serious crime – such as scrutinizing the victim’s behavior or actions before, during and after the alleged assault, her use of drugs or alcohol, her previous and current consensual sexual contact with the alleged perpetrator, and the possibility that the case was the result mis-communication or misunderstanding, …today everything the victim tells the police is accepted as fact for the political “comfort” of the alleged victim.

The So Called “Victim-Centered Approach”

The new Denver protocol was written as a “systematic focus on the needs and concerns of a sexual assault victim to ensure the compassionate and sensitive delivery of services in a nonjudgmental manner.”

Under the new protocol to in any way suggest to the “survivor” that her story does not add up with the other evidence in the case would make her uncomfortable. The victim’s comfort level now is the  top priority, not due process, justice and fairness to the target of the investigation.

Believing  the Victim “At Any Cost”

From the top down – the victim is to be believed from the very beginning.

All participants, under the new protocols, from the initial stages of response, to the termination of the investigation, must adhere to the theme. Whether it is …

        • the hotline advocate,
        • the 911 communications personnel,
        • law enforcement patrol,
        • the hospital emergency department personnel. and/or
        • the police sex crimes investigators – detectives.

….they are all directed as in the following example.

The following quote is taken directly from the new protocol. While it plays lip service to being objective in the investigation – there is a section that belies this in the quote itself:

“Denver responders accept the victim’s account of the event, document it, and proceed with a systematic investigation in order to develop every lead provided by the victim. If investigation uncovers inconsistencies, those are addressed first for clarification with the victim.”

Any seasoned detective will tell you that if an inconsistency develops in a sexual assault case, the last person you confront with that inconsistency is the alleged victim. Doing so gives that person an opportunity to change her story to conform to the investigation. 

Withholding Information Or The Fabrication Of Facts No Longer Means Questionable Credibility

Today the politically correct investigator and prosecutor will bend over backwards to excuse weaknesses in the investigation and prosecution of these cases. Today victims withhold critical information during the investigation – not because they are lying – but because of their allleged “shame, embarrassment or response to trauma.”

Today the victim’s memory is so “impacted by trauma” the important details – such as whether the sexual act was consensual – may not be immediately recalled. In the opinion of this writer, the alleged victims of sexual assault may be reluctant to present essential facts because they fear certain “bad facts” may weaken their credibility and therefore the State’s case.

Bad facts such as using mind altering drugs, ingesting large amounts of  alcohol voluntarily, or consenting to certain kinds of sexual acts are among the kind of facts that are not – and may never be admitted by these victims.

New Denver Colorado Sexual Assault Response “Protocols” Victims Are Believed No Matter What – Conclusion

False allegations of sexual assault are no different than any other type of false allegation in the criminal justice system.

Alleged victims or “survivors” of sexual assault may act with or without malice. They will falsely accuse someone of rape – sexual assault for a variety of reasons which may include:

  • Anger
  • Desire for fame and/or financial gain
  • False memories
  • Fear of parents or other figures of authority
  • Alcohol Intoxication
  • Revenge

The experienced Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer should study the new protocols to determine what role they may have played in skewing the objectivity of the investigation.  Using this defense investigation to determine what – or what was not done in the name of “victim – survivor” comfort. 


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