Tuesday, August 9, 2016
CPI Calls on Candidates Clinton and Trump to Renounce ‘Victim Centered Investigations’ as an Affront to Justice
WASHINGTON / August 9, 2016 – Today the Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI) is calling on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to issue a call for the end of victim-centered investigations (VCI) in sexual assault cases. Victim-centered investigations represent an biased approach to sexual assault investigations that openly favors the accuser and eliminates the presumption of innocence, the center charges.
Both the Democratic and Republican political platforms, approved last month, specifically call for fairness in handling criminal offenses. The Democratic platform highlights the need to “ensure a fair process for all on-campus disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system.”
The current regime of campus adjudications “contravenes our country’s legal traditions and must be halted,” according to the Republican platform, and “prevents the proper authorities from investigating and prosecuting sexual assault effectively with due process.”
Victim-centered investigations emphasize the collection of evidence supportive of the complainant and discourage the collection of exculpatory evidence, thereby increasing the likelihood of a guilty verdict. Victim-centered investigations represent a departure from ethical standards of investigative impartiality, neutrality, and objectivity.
Proponents of victim-centered investigations openly urge investigators to “start by believing” and assume the complainant’s account is true until proven otherwise. As a result, justice is compromised and the potential for wrongful conviction increases, CPI believes.
In one case, a Virginia college student was arrested and jailed for six days based on an uncorroborated allegation of sexual assault. The student had never been to the city where the assault alleged took place and the accuser’s account contained numerous inconsistencies. The case was eventually dropped after the student produced over 40,000 emails and other documents that proved his innocence. The student was saddled with over $60,000 in legal fees to defend himself against an accusation that had no basis in reality.
CPI urges both presidential candidates to endorse a “justice centered” approach which protects due process, preserves the presumption of innocence, and utilizes an impartial evaluation of all evidence. While complainants must be treated with respect and taken seriously, investigators must always remain impartial and follow the evidence.
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity works to enhance prosecutorial ethics, reduce over-criminalization, and end wrongful convictions. More information on victim centered investigations can be viewed at http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/sa/investigations/
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