Prosecutors have an essential role in the effort to test the previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits identified through the SAKI Project. As previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits are tested through the project and analysis results are provided to local jurisdictions, local prosecutors may begin to see an increase in sexual assault cold cases being referred to their offices. While cold case sexual assault prosecutions may present unique challenges, the consideration of these cases is essential to several of the core goals of the SAKI project such as accountability, identification of serial offenders, and justice for victims.
There may be cases that are referred to prosecution but are unable to be charged or taken to trial for many different reasons. In these instances, it may be beneficial for the prosecutor, advocate and law enforcement to work together and offer to meet with the victim at a location of the victim’s choosing, to discuss why the case cannot move forward and answer questions the victim may have.
Some jurisdictions may consider the development of cold case teams. These multi-disciplinary teams may consist of law enforcement investigators working on cold case follow up, victim advocates, prosecutors, and SANEs. The use of cold case teams can promote accountability, ensure follow-up is conducted in a manner that is victim-centered and trauma informed, and facilitate discussion involving multiple perspectives to continue improving victim services and sexual assault response.
The following resources can assist prosecutors who are reviewing cases that are referred to their office after the testing, analysis, and further investigation of the previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.