News and Commentary

Press Release Sexual Assault

PR: How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent

Sharing is caring!

Contact: Gina Lauterio

How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent: Upcoming Teleconference

WASHINGTON / September 19, 2016 – A national teleconference will be held on the topic, “How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent.” The event will address how “victim-centered” investigations remove the presumption of innocence and greatly increase the risk of a wrongful finding of guilt. The teleconference will be held on October 4 at 1:00 to 4:00 pm, Eastern time.

The Department of Education has repeatedly issued directives calling for equitable campus investigations. In 2001 the Office for Civil Rights issued its Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance mandating that universities undertake “adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints.” Likewise, the OCR’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on campus violence explained, “a school’s investigation and hearing processes cannot be equitable unless they are impartial.”

In contrast, victim-centered investigations are based on the assumptions of “start by believing” and “always believe the victim.”

The teleconference will address victim-centered investigations on both college campuses and in the criminal justice setting. The Forum will consist of presentations by leading investigators, attorneys, and other experts:

  • Cynthia Garrett: Welcome and Introduction
  • Christopher Perry: What is the Problem with Victim-Centered Investigations?
  • Jerry Rogoff: The Psychological Effects on Persons Wrongfully Found Guilty of Sexual Misconduct
  • Carolyn Martin: My Lawsuit to End Investigative Bias at the Department of the Navy
  • Claudia Whitman: How to Botch a Criminal Investigation in Ten Easy Steps
  • Michael Conzachi: University of Texas Blueprint for Injustice

Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk describes the always-believe-the-victim approach as a “near-religious teaching” that is likely to harm rape victims: “When the core belief is that accusers never lie, if any one accuser has lied, it brings into question the stability of the entire thought system, rendering uncertain all allegations of sexual assault.”

The teleconference, sponsored by the non-profit Center for Prosecutor Integrity, will be available free of charge. Registration information will be made available here: