Sexual assault cuts across all gender, cultural, and age barriers; anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, female or male. Moreover, there is no typical sexual assault perpetrator; the offender could be a stranger, a trusted family member, a good friend or an acquaintance. A majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. Some victims do not report due to fear, embarrassment, or trauma. Others fear retaliation by the perpetrator. Some worry about media attention. Still others lack faith in the criminal justice system.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to holding offenders accountable for their crimes while ensuring that sexual assault survivors are treated with respect and dignity in the criminal justice system.
A senior deputy district attorney with expertise in sexual assault prosecutions (the DA Sexual Assault Unit) oversees all sexual assault cases in the office. This oversight is intended to ensure consistency and fairness in determining whether and what kind of charges are to be filed, and to make sure that best practices are followed in the prosecution of these difficult cases.
Sexual assaults between intimate partners are assigned to the Family Violence Unit.
All other cases involving sexual assault - including sexual assault by a stranger, sexual assault between acquaintances, college campus sexual assault, and sexual assault on the elderly or disabled - are handled by experienced prosecutors in District Court.
The victim advocate plays a critical role in assisting victims of sexual assault by making contact as early as possible to assess their needs and concerns, and by connecting them with various community resources.
Through partnerships with various community agencies, the District Attorney’s Office works to ensure a coordinated, multi-agency response to sexual assaults in order to provide victims with access to all possible services and resources.
One such collaborative effort is the Sexual Assault Response Team (“SART”), which is made up of representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement, community agencies (including the Blue Bench), and health care service providers. The goal of the SART is to emphasize best practices in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults through a victim- centered approach while focusing on offender culpability.
Another collaborative partnership is the Sexual Assault Interagency Council (“SAIC”), comprised of approximately 30 agencies representing the criminal justice system, medical professionals, educational institutions and victim service providers. The SAIC works to encourage sexual assault reporting, improve Denver’s response to sexual assault and ensure that victims have access to services to assist in their recovery.
The Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance (DATA) is another collaborative network, housed and supported by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, that works to create a victim-centered, multi-disciplinary response to human trafficking in Denver through victim services, collaborative investigation and prosecution, education and awareness, and public policy advocacy. DATA participants include law enforcement, children’s advocacy organizations, government service agencies, victim assistance organizations, private therapists, faith based organizations, and others involved in fighting human trafficking.
Victim Information, Assistance, and Resources
For more information about sexual assault, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) offers a brochure “Understanding Unwanted Sexual Experiences” - DOWNLOAD HERE (courtesy of CCASA)
There are several community resources available to assist a sexual assault victim in areas such as reporting the crime, advocacy, counseling, medical needs and financial support.
Please see our resource guide for a general list of services. This is not a comprehensive list so make sure you also contact your victim advocate for additional services or if you are looking for a program that is not found on this list.
Sexual Assault FAQs
• Get to a safe place as quickly as possible.
• Call 911.
• Call a friend or family member you trust to be with you. You can also
call a rape crisis line for support, information and referrals.
• Do not wash, comb or clean any part of your body until you can get to
the hospital. If possible, do not change your clothes so the hospital personnel can collect them. Do not touch or move anything at the scene of the assault.
• Go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Even if you choose not to report a sexual assault, you should seek medical treatment. You will need to be examined, treated for injuries, and screened for possible sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The doctor or sexual assault nurse will collect evidence including any fibers, hairs, saliva, semen or other evidence that the attacker may have left behind. This evidence may be critical for identifying your attacker and/or later proving the case at trial.
Anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, whether it occurred recently or in the past, may call a crisis hotline. The hotlines are also available for anyone with questions about sexual assault or sexual abuse. Please see Victim Assistance Resources for hotline numbers.
Yes. You should still seek medical treatment for your own well-being and also to ensure prompt collection of critical evidence.
Not at all. The DA’s office can only file a case in which there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction. In other words, the prosecution must be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Members of the DA’s office are ethically compelled to decline to file a case for which there does not exist a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial. That does not mean that you are not believed. Rather, there is some reason or reasons that the case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury at trial.
If you have been the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for crime victim compensation. Some financial assistance to victims of crime is available through Criminal Victim Compensation. Victim compensation may help pay for medical expenses, mental health counseling, loss of wages due to injury, funeral expenses, repair or replacement of residential doors, locks and windows. Unfortunately, the program cannot consider claims for property loss and damage, rent and other personal bills, moving expenses or loss of cash. For more information about Criminal Victim Compensation, click here.