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Book Review of Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: A Forensic Handbook; by LeBeau, and Mozayani), by Hornfeldt (Forensic Science Communications, April 2002)


April 2002 - Volume 4 - Number 2

Book Review

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: A Forensic Handbook

Edited by:

Marc A. LeBeau and Ashraf Mozayani

Academic Press, San Diego, California, 2001
ISBN 0-12-440261-5

Reviewed by:

Carl S. Hornfeldt
Manager of Professional Services
Orphan Medical, Incorporated
Minnetonka, Minnesota

Marc A. LeBeau and Ashraf Mozayani brought together toxicologists, sexual assault nurse examiners, psychiatrists, law enforcement professionals, and attorneys who share their expertise about the many aspects of drug-facilitated sex crimes in Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: A Forensic Handbook. These authors provide a comprehensive examination of drug-facilitated sexual assault. In the Preface, the editors acknowledge that “This book was written to aid the ‘investigators’ of drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA). This includes law enforcement, medical professionals, rape crisis personnel, attorneys, and forensic scientists who are put into the difficult situation of dealing with this crime. It was also written to help dispel a number of myths that exist surrounding the crime … in order to better educate these investigators.”

The first two chapters lay the foundation for drug-facilitated sexual offenses. The first chapter is devoted to the victim. It provides a description of the victims of these crimes, how they become victimized, and the various relationships the victims have with their assailants. It outlines the scope of the problem in the United States, describes the physical and emotional suffering that victims endure, and offers valuable suggestions for investigators interviewing drug-facilitated sexual assault victims. The chapter also describes the uniqueness of the crime pattern, the victim’s trauma, and the legal protocols.

The second chapter describes the perpetrators of these crimes, who they are, the reasons they perform these acts, and their modes of operation. The author points out that the perpetrators are not always strangers but can be family, acquaintances, or friends relying on the amnesia the drug induces. The perpetrators can also be older, weaker offenders relying on the incapacitation a drug produces. The use of factual statements and descriptions from drug-facilitated sexual assault victims make this part of the book poignant as well as informative.

The next six chapters of the book, Chapters 3-8, provide detailed information about the drugs most commonly used to perform these crimes. Each drug is described with its role in sexual assault crimes; its clinical and toxic effects; its chemistry, physicochemical properties, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacology; and the analytical methods used to detect each agent or family of agents. These chapters cover common and classical agents such as ethanol, flunitrazepam, hallucinogens, opioids, and GHB, as well as less commonly considered agents including antihistamines and antidepressants.

Chapters 9-11 discuss evidence collected from drug-facilitated sexual assault crimes. Chapter 9 discusses techniques for collecting evidence of a biological, chemical, and genetic nature. It includes what can be collected as evidence from the victim (e.g., urine, blood, hair, saliva); and from the crime scene (e.g., pills, containers, condoms); and how it should be collected, preserved, and transported. Chapter 10 offers descriptions of toxicology, serology, and DNA analyses, including available techniques, limits of detection, and result-reporting.

Chapter 11 discusses Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and physicians referred to as Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE). The nurses and physicians are part of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) providing forensic evaluation, treatment of rape-related trauma, and sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis for the drug-facilitated sexual assault victim. The chapter also describes the role of nurse specialists in crisis intervention and legal advocacy referral.

The last two chapters of the book, Chapters 12 and 13, discuss the criminal investigation and prosecution of drug-facilitated sexual crime cases. Chapter 12 explains culture trends and the drugs associated with them. It provides descriptions of the current rave scene and popular club drugs, innovative techniques for interviewing drug-facilitated sexual assault victims and suspects, protocols and strategies used during investigations and interviews, information on the use of sexual assault evidence kits, and advice on testing and interpreting the samples and results. Chapter 13 presents the steps involved in preparing for the pretrial and trial. It examines the value of the evidence, the interpretation of the results, and the role and credibility of the prosecution and defense experts such as the sexual assault nurse examiner or the toxicologist. The authors discuss the cross-examination of jury members, witnesses, and experts; the challenge of being cross-examined; and the preparation of arguments and conclusions.

The editors have included the following three appendices to assist the investigator:

  • Appendix A is a sample questionnaire for drug-facilitated sexual assault investigators.
  • Appendix B is a sample toxicological request form for drug-facilitated sexual assault cases.
  • Appendix C is a sample search warrant for drug-facilitated sexual assault cases.

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: A Forensic Handbook is referred to as a handbook; however, it is better described as a comprehensive textbook. Each chapter is thoroughly referenced. This 300-page book should be considered a valuable resource for anyone involved in the investigation, evaluation, treatment, and prosecution of drug-facilitated sexual assault.


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