SLCgov.com

CodeRKit

  • What is the Code R Kits Project?

    Chief Chris Burbank announced the Code R Kits Project during a press conference April 16, 2014  (see  video in tab below). It will consist of an internal review of every sexual assault evidence collection kit — aka Code R Kit — in the custody of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

  • Results — Material is graphic in nature — Parental discretion advised

    This folder is where results of the Code R Kit reviews will be archived moving forward. The first 20 were posted Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Detectives will continue to add to this archive until all of the more than 600 Code R Kits in the custody of the Salt Lake City Police Department have been reviewed.

    New case #: 001
    Year of incident: 2000
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Victim declined to prosecute.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Victim declined to prosecute.
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Victim declined to prosecute, suspect unknown.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Victim met suspect in a bar, had a few drinks, went back to his motel room and was sexually assaulted by the suspect. Follow-up detective contacted victim for follow up, and the victim at that time indicated that she did not want to pursue the case criminally. Code R Kit not sent because victim did not want to pursue.

     


    New case #: 002
    Year of incident: 2002
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Suspect identified and arrested directly after incident reported.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Suspect was in SLC working from another country. Suspect met victim and they later went back to his room where the victim was sexually assaulted. Suspect was found and arrested.  The suspect was able to bail out of jail prior to trial and has not been seen since. Suspect currently has a NCIC want as well as a statewide felony warrant for sex abuse. Code R Kit not sent because suspect was identified.

     


    New case #: 003
    Year of incident: 2002
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Two suspects identified, confessed and charged.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Two suspects identified and interviewed, subsequently confessing to their roles in this rape.  Both suspects were charged and warrants issued, both on statewide and NCIC.  Both suspects charged with F1 Rape bail $100,000.  Warrants and NCIC are still outstanding on both parties.  Code R Kit not sent because suspects were identified and confessed.

     


    New case #: 004
    Year of incident: 1988
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Unknown, technology not developed.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    Yes
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Unknown suspect
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    Statute of limitations has now expired.
    Summary: The victim was home alone and woke to a male standing over her holding a knife. The male sexually assaulted the victim.Even though the statute of limitations has expired on this case for Aggravated Burglary and sexual assault, due to the criminal behavior exhibited in this case it is recommended that the Code R Kit evidence be submitted in an attempt to identify the suspect. With the increase in DNA technology it is a strong possibility that an identifiable DNA could be discovered.

     


    New case #: 005
    Year of incident: 1997
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Unknown
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Prosecution “FORMALLY” declined in late Feb 1998.  Since that declination, no new evidence was brought forth.  Statute of limitations has elapsed.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    Insufficient evidence
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Victim went to an apartment with an acquaintance and because of her hazy recollection believes she was drugged and possibly sexually assaulted. Statute of limitations has expired.

     


    New case #: 006
    Year of incident: 2004
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:  In Evidence
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Victim declined to prosecute.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Victim declined to prosecute.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Victim states she went to a friend’s house where she believes she was drugged and sexually assaulted. Detectives made contact with the victim and set a time for a follow up interview.  Victim never arrived for the interview and subsequently could not be located. Code R kit never taken to the state crime lab due to limited information from victim.

     


    New case #: 007
    Year of incident: 2004
    Victim’s gender (M/F): M
    Code R Kit status: SLCPD Evidence room
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    DA declined to file charges; victim refused certain parts of the Code R exam.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Victim declined to prosecute, no witnesses.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status: Declined
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Victim stated that after a party, he got into a bus where he drank alcohol and smoked Marijuana. Victim stated he was sexually assaulted while on the bus. He was dropped off down town where he assaulted a store clerk and ran from police. During the investigation, limited information was received from the victim. This case was screened and declined by the DA. Code R Kit exam never taken to the SCL.

     


    New case #: 008
    Year of incident: 2004
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status: SLC evidence room
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Victim never complained of being sexually assaulted.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Not enough evidence to screen.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Victim stated that she was kidnapped but never remembered if she was sexually assaulted. After victim ran from one of the suspects, she fell and could not remember anything until she woke up on a park bench. She was taken to the hospital and Code R Kit was done. Detectives interviewed the victim. Throughout the investigation, the account of events varied and no claims of sexual assault remained.

     


    New case #: 009
    Year of incident: 2004
    Victim’s gender (M/F): M
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Suspect admitted to having sex with victim.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    N/A
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): F
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: 25 Year old suspect had sex with 14 year old victim. Code R Kit was done on victim. No exam was done on suspect as she confessed to the crime. Code R Kit was never taken to State Crime Lab as the suspect confessed to the crime. Charges filed and warrant obtained.  Suspect booked into jail.

     


    New case #: 010
    Year of incident: 2004
    Victim’s gender (M/F): N/A
    Code R Kit status: SLC evidence room
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Declined, not enough evidence in the case.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Victim willingly moved back in with suspect shortly after the incident.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    Not enough evidence.
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Suspect is victim’s ex-husband. Suspect came over to victim’s house and both got into an altercation. Initially, victim stated that she was sexually assaulted by suspect. Case was screened with the DA and declined for lack of evidence. Code R Kit never taken to SCL as no sexually related charges were filed.

     


    New case #: 011
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Known suspect. There was no question that sexual activity occurred.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    The suspect was arrested. Charges were declined by the District Attorney’s Office.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: A male and female who lived in the same neighborhood came into contact. The female stated that the male grabbed her and pulled her into his house and raped her. The male stated that the female came with him willingly and had consensual sex with him. Patrol officers responded, interviewed both parties, and arrested the male for rape. A Detective conducted a follow-up interview with the female and screened the case with the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges.

     


    New case #: 012
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    The victim admitted to making a false allegation.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Charges were screened against the complainant for making a false police report.
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: Patrol officers were called to the Juvenile Detention Center due to a female teenager in their custody having bruises on her. The female teenager initially told officers that she had run away from home and gone to a club with friends. She drank alcohol and smoked marijuana while at the club. She said that she did not remember being sexually assaulted, but implications were made by her that a sexual assault may have occurred at the apartment she went to with her friends after leaving the club. The female named a suspect and gave additional details to the investigating detective about the sexual assault during a follow-up interview. The police department began looking for the suspect, but a couple weeks later the female admitted to her probation officer and her mother that she had made the sexual assault story up to help get out of trouble. Charges were screened against the female for making a false police report.

     


    New case #: 013
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    The suspect was identified and subsequently confessed.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: No
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes. Suspect charged and arrested.
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: A Vice Detective spoke with a known female prostitute who told the Detective she had been raped by a potential client the previous night. A suspect was identified and interviewed. The suspect admitted to raping the female. The suspect was charged by the District Attorney’s Office with two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault.

     


    New case #: 014
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Suspect known.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    Declined citing “evidence problems”.
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: A female had an ex-boyfriend at her residence. The female stated that while the ex-boyfriend was there he raped her. When the ex-boyfriend was interviewed he stated that the female agreed to have sex with him for money. The case was screened with the District Attorney’s Office and charges were declined citing “evidence problems”.

     


    New case #: 015
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Unable to locate victim after initial report.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Unable to locate victim after initial report.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Investigators lacked sufficient evidence to proceed to screening without further information from the victim at the time.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: A female stated that she was raped by an acquaintance. When a follow-up Detective tried to make contact with the female for additional information they were unable to locate the female. Detectives checked numerous addresses and phone numbers in attempt to locate the female but were unsuccessful.

     


    New case #: 016
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    The victim stated she consented to sexual intercourse.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Victim recanted her original statement with law enforcement no crime committed.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    No crime was established after the second interview with the victim.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: The victim and the suspect were 17 years old and were sleeping in the same house.  The victim at first told officers she was raped during the night by the male suspect.  After a second interview with the victim at the Children’s Justice Center, she recanted her prior statement and told Special Victim Detectives that the sexual intercourse was consensual between the two of them.

     


    New case #: 017
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    The victim stated she wanted the case dropped and didn’t want to proceed. Urine from the CODE R kit was tested for GHB, results came back as negative from the crime lab.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    Victim wanted the case closed.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    The victim wanted the case to be closed.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: The victim and the suspect went on a date together. The victim stated throughout the date she had several alcoholic drinks. The victim stated she didn’t recall much of the night and felt like she may have been given a date rape drug while on the date. She did recall her pants being pulled down and the suspect being inside of her. The victim later told the special victim’s detective that she wanted the case to be closed and did not want to proceed with the investigation.

     


    New case #: 018
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): M
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    The evidence did not support the victim’s statement. The detective contacted the victim for a follow up interview to verify details of the case. The victim failed to follow through for an additional interview.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    N/A
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    No
    • If screened but declined, why:
    N/A
    • If not screened, why:
    Investigators lacked sufficient information and evidence to proceed to screening without further information from the victim at the time.
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: The victim stated he was held against his will and anally raped several times. He states he was”grabbed” by the suspect while waiting for the Trax train and then taken against his will to an old house in Salt Lake City. Once at the house he was forced to smoke crystal meth and perform as the suspect’s lover or be “thrown into the basement and be locked in.”

     


    New case #: 019
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Suspect’s were known, case declined.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    District Attorney “Formally” declined this case for charges in July, of 2003. Statute of Limitations has since elapsed.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    Lack of evidence
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: The juvenile victim stated she was raped by several males over the course of a few days.  The victim had run away from home and was staying at an apartment with the suspects.

     


    New case #: 020
    Year of incident: 2003
    Victim’s gender (M/F): F
    Code R Kit status:
    • Why wasn’t it tested at the time:
    Suspect was known, case declined by the District Attorney.
    • Is it recommended for testing now:
    No
    • If not, what are the barriers to new testing:
    District Attorney “Formally” declined this case for charges in Aug, of 2003. Statute of Limitations has since elapsed.
    Did the victim know the suspect: Yes
    Suspect’s gender (M/F): M
    Prosecution status:
    • Was case screened with DA’s Office:
    Yes
    • If screened but declined, why:
    Lack of evidence and witness problems
    • If not screened, why:
    N/A
    • Other barriers to prosecution:
    N/A
    Summary: The adult suspect and the juvenile victim knew each other. The suspect picked up the victim from her house at 1:00 a.m. and they drove down the street. The two were located by the victim’s father and the police were contacted. Victim told police she was sexually assaulted by the suspect.

     

  • How long will it take to complete the review?

    It could take up to a year to review all of the more than 600 Code R Kits that have yet to be sent to the state Crime Lab for testing. Detectives will thoroughly review each case.

  • What will be included in the public information about each Code R Kit?

    A template is being developed in conjunction with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and the state Crime Lab, a division of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

  • What is a Code R Kit?

    A Code R Kit is evidence gathered by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. It includes a brief medical history, a targeted history of the assault, notes on a visual head to toe inspection for evidence of injury, photographic documentation of injury, and samples of body fluids and DNA evidence through blood draw or swabs of specific areas, and scalp and pubic hair. (Source: uuhsc.utah.edu/mso/pdfs/SLSanePriv.pdf)

  • What is the history of DNA testing and its advancements over the last 25 years?

    Forensic DNA testing has unquestionably changed the way the criminal justice system evaluates sexual assault evidence.  This change did not occur immediately but rather incrementally over the last twenty-five years. In the late 1980’s and through most of the 1990’s, testing was limited to those biological stains (e.g., blood, semen, saliva) that contained a large amount of DNA which meant that only those cases that met this threshold could be tested. Otherwise, there was insufficient sample for obtaining a DNA profile.  Furthermore, the computer technology was not sufficient for networking and searching cases in an expeditious manner.

    In the early 2000’s, a coalescence of DNA technology, computers and federal funding created a network known as CODIS  (Combined DNA Indexing System) that allowed the practical and efficient comparison of DNA profiles collected from sexual assault evidence. In recent years, the CODIS system has evolved and become more sensitive with additional genetic tools which have increased the number of searchable crime scene samples.  Almost simultaneously, states passed laws that increased the number of offender samples.  The combination of these factors has resulted in the development of an effective tool that has become a standard investigative practice for most law enforcement agencies.

    In light of these new technological developments, jurisdictions around the country have recently begun to re-evaluate untested sexual assault evidence. Those who have been most effective have been those which combined good communication, collaboration and cooperation of all pertinent entities.

  • What is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or SANE Nurse?

    Each SANE nurse is a currently licensed registered nurse with additional specialty training in the field of forensic nursing. Each nurse has participated in a mentoring program in the field of care of sexual assault victims. Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SL SANE) is a nonprofit organization (501 (c)(3), created in 2001 to provide adolescent and adult victims of sexual violence with professional and compassionate medical care, as well as timely and thorough collection of forensic evidence immediately following sexual assault or rape. (Source: www.slsane.org)

  • Press conference April 16, 2014, at Public Safety Building (SLCPD)


    Press conference April 16, 2014, at Public Safety Building (SLCPD).

  • Chief's Message: Sexual Assault Investigations Explained

    This Chief’s Message is a conversation between Chief Chris Burbank and Special Victims Detective Scott Mourtgos, recorded April 21, 2014. A transcript of the video message is located in the next tab.

  • Chief's Message: Sexual Assault Investigations Explained -- TRANSCRIPT
    Chief’s Message: Code R Kits Project
    Host: Chief Chris Burbank
    Subject Matter Expert: Det. Scott Mourtgos
    Recorded: April 21, 2014

     

    Chief Chris Burbank: Hello, I’m Chris Burbank, Chief of Police for the Salt Lake City Police Department. And in light of all that’s gone on in the last week, I’m here with Detective Scott Mourtgos and we’re actually going to discuss a little bit about what goes into a sexual assault investigation, what exactly is a Code R Kit, and how does the police department use it. Scott, thanks for being with me today.

    Det. Scott Mourtgos: No problem.

    Burbank: Tell me a little bit – so you’re a detective in the Special Victims area of the police department. What do you investigate?

    Mourtgos: The Special Victims Unit investigates anything that’s a crime of a sexual nature. So whether it be adult [or] child [victims], we investigate it, along with child abuse.

    Burbank: Tell me, because a lot of people don’t understand it, what is the difference – when you say sexual assault, it encompasses the crime of rape.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: But what are the other categories of sexual assault that you investigate.

    Mourtgos: Well there’s many different crimes in Utah law as far as sexual assault goes. Sexual assault is more of an umbrella term for many different sexual crimes. You can have forcible sexual abuse, you can have sodomy, then you have rape, as well. So it’s more of an umbrella term to describe numerous different sexual assaults, depending on the circumstances of the case decides which one actually gets charged by the District Attorney’s Office.

    Burbank: So, most of the time in the police department, when we have a crime of a sexual nature, usually our patrol function are the first to deal with that. Isn’t that correct?

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: And then so, let’s pick up. At that point, someone makes a phone call. Oftentimes, they [the victim] walked into a hospital and they [said], “I need some medical help,” or they just call the police department and say, “hey, I need some help.”

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: We send a police officer out, he does an initial investigation and really tries to gather as much information at that time that they can.

    Mourtgos: Correct.

    Burbank: And at that point, usually the victim is taken to a hospital, where a Code R exam is done.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: So, walk me through from that point, what takes place, without too much detail, obviously, but detail as far as your job and what you start looking for immediately.

    Mourtgos: The SANE nurse, the sexual assault nurse examiner, they conduct the Code R kit up at the hospital —

    Burbank: Well, and I’m going to interrupt you there, because that’s important, because a lot of people don’t understand that. It’s not a police officer, it’s not a police investigator or is it one of our Crime Lab people – it’s actually a trained nurse, specifically trained to deal with people who are the victims of sexual assault.

    Mourtgos: Yes, that is correct. They do the physical examination, as well as take photographs of any injuries that might be there.

    Burbank: All right, so go ahead and pick up then what you start doing.

    Mourtgos: So, when that’s done, when the exam is done and the kit is turned over to the patrol officer, either the same one or one later in the date – because those exams can take up to give hours sometimes, and then it’s booked into evidence. Now when that exam is done, a report is included with the kit. The kit itself isn’t the report. The kit just contains any evidence that might have been obtained. So we get a paper report that lists all of the different injuries that may or may not be there, the different types of swabs that may or may not have been done, as well as the second account to the nurse of what occurred during the sexual assault so we have a second account of what happened [told] to the nurse, not just what’s coming to the patrol officer originally because as we understand it’s a very traumatic experience. So sometimes they [the victim] might leave something out in the first account to the patrol officer and it might come out during the account to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

    Burbank: Well, and sometimes comfort level changes.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: I mean, there’s times where a victim is very comfortable with the responding officer, other times they’re not and they develop a rapport with the SANE nurse. So there’s a lot that goes into this, but I think the thing that I just want to touch on briefly is because the kit is put together, right, and it is just like any other crime scene investigation. We gather lots of evidence. It does not always mean that all that evidence is processed the same way or is of the same value.

    Mourtgos: That is correct.

    Burbank: OK.

    Mourtgos: So, when we [a Special Victims detective] get it, typically – if we have a suspect in custody, we’re going to get called out. Whether it’s on the weekend, at 3 a.m. – if there is a suspect in custody, then we’re going to come out and start doing interviews and talking to him or her, whatever it may be, and looking at the evidence at that time. If a suspect’s not in custody, then typically we’ll get forwarded that information along with the initial report on the next business day. And so the first thing we want to do, is we look at the report to see what the original account is to the patrol officer when they take that report. And then we also take a look at that Code R report, as well, because the actual samples are booked into evidence but we get the Code R report for our case files so we can look at it and see what the victim is telling the nurse, as well as lists of injuries that may be there.

    Burbank: So, I think it’s also important just to make note, because as we start progressing through this investigation, the majority of times the suspect is known to the victim.

    Mourtgos: That is correct.

    Burbank: In fact, in a lot of cases, it’s a relative or trusted family friend – especially if it involves a child.

    Mourtgos: Yes, especially with a child. Even with adult victims, though, we typically know who the suspect is.

    Burbank: So, interesting statistic that I saw, nine out of 10 women in the ages of 18 to, I think, 35, right, nine out of 10 knew the suspect.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: And knew who it was, as well as when you take the broader range of all the crimes and ages of victims, it’s six in 10. So a good portion of the crimes – it’s already known to us [the suspect’s identity]. So how do we then go about, in essence, proving whether or not this individual committed a crime.

    Mourtgos: Well, and that’s where these investigations get really difficult, because – as far as taking it to the [state] crime lab to get processed, that’s typically just for an identification purpose if we don’t know who the suspect is. So, if the victim doesn’t know who the perpetrator is, well, then that’s when we take it to get the DNA processed to see if we can get some kind of profile that matches against other cases. If we already know who the suspect is, there’s no reason to process that DNA, typically, because that’s just for identification purposes. So, at that point, it becomes a matter of consent. Was the sexual activity consensual or not consensual, and if we have a suspect saying, “I did have sexual contact with this person but it was consensual,” then we start getting into, OK, well, how can we proved that it was or was not consensual.

    Burbank: So what do you start looking at, at that point? Because I think this is important, too. It is not the DNA portion that goes to a case like this.

    Mourtgos: Correct.

    Burbank: There is other evidence that we start looking for. And what would some of that be?

    Mourtgos: You know, like I said, on that Code R report, we look at injuries. You know, if there’s a lot of injuries that occurred during the sexual activity, that’s one thing we look at. We look at any witness accounts that might be there. Typically, there’s not a witness to the actual sexual assault, however, there are witnesses to the events leading up to and the events leading after that can help corroborate what that victim is saying.

    Burbank: The other thing that I think is really important, because – sexual assault is one of those crimes that is probably the most under reported, in fact, studies have shown, the most under reported crime is when you have a male victim, that we don’t even hear about them. In fact, oftentimes Rape Recovery – no one hears about those types of assaults.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: What would you tell somebody who believes they are the victim of a sexual assault as far as the process — because I think it’s intimidating. And one of the things that I was very concerned about as the discussion played out in front of the council and then in the newspaper and on the TV over the next few days, we don’t ever want to send the message that victims are not going to get the help they need in the police department.

    Mourtgos: That’s right. I would encourage anybody that’s been a victim of a sexual assault to please come forward and report it because you might not be the only victim of that person. That being said, it’s not an easy process. And we realize that, and we try to mitigate that as much possible, but not matter what we do, it’s never going to be an easy process. It’s a lengthy process. Unfortunately, with crime TV shows, it’s kind of given this impression that these investigations are neatly wrapped up within an hour and you have a conviction. That’s just not the case. They are very lengthy and exhaustive investigations that take quite some time and a lot of times victims don’t want to be put through the process they’re being put through for that length of time, and we have to ask questions sometimes that might come off as offensive or insensitive, but they’re questions that we need to ask because they’ll be asked in court, if that case goes to court, and we need to know the answers to them before it gets to that point.

    Burbank: Obviously, to build a good case, you want to know everything that’s going to be said at trial.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: One of the things, too, that I think is really important, that as we look at sexual assault and how we investigate it, there is not a single time — and you can absolutely correct me if I’m wrong — but there has not been a single time in the police department where we say we’d really like to process this evidence, but we don’t have the money, the time or the energy to process it. Sometimes it takes a long time, and sometimes it’s very expensive, but we always — if you believe as a detective, do you have the ability to have that evidence processed?

    Mourtgos: Absolutely. And I can tell you on a detective’s standpoint, we don’t even consider the cost. I mean, that’s not even something we worry about.

    Burbank: No, you pass that on to me, which I happily accept.

    Mourtgos: Exactly. Other people worry about that. If we need something processed, we take it out. The problem that comes into is the timeframe we’re looking at [to process DNA at the state crime lab].

    Burbank: Well, and that is a challenge, and it’s certainly something that came up and we are working on. And in fact, long before issues came up the last week, this has been a process that both detectives and the administration of the police department have been working with the [state] crime lab, with the District Attorney’s Office, to kind of solve this.

    Mourtgos: Absolutely. As long as I’ve been involved in these cases, [DNA processing] time has always been an issue.

    Burbank: The other thing, and you’ve touched on this, is TV often taints [public perception]. In fact, most of what everybody knows, including brand new police recruits, about policing comes from TV.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: But, we don’t turn evidence – how often have you seen a case where you submit completely unknown suspect DNA and it comes back in a day or two, or let alone in six months, and says, OK, this is the person, this is where they’re at.

    Mourtgos: I’ve only been involved with one case where that happened and it was a six-year, I think it was a six-year time period in between when the Code R was taken, to when a perpetrator was identified.

    Burbank: And that also brings me to an important point that I think a lot of people don’t understand. When you talk about why are these cases sitting there, why are the kits, the evidence, sitting there  — well, if there’s not value, if we don’t determine that it is appropriate at that point in time to process the evidence, we don’t just toss evidence away, because it may have some impact at a later time and date.

    Mourtgos: Yes.

    Burbank: And so, again, I can’t stress how important it is that we evaluate everything that goes in to, one,  a single case, and then two, the overall how many sex crimes do we have in Salt Lake City or may we have in the future.

    Mourtgos: Right.

    Burbank: The other thing that I think I want to touch on, which it is very important, is the fact that, when you start down the road, and you say, OK, I now have a suspect. What does it look like for a suspect? Because one of the things that I think is important that people don’t understand, we can’t just randomly go gather DNA off of everywhere and take swabs out of people’s mouths without search warrants, without, sometimes, consent, and other times we can’t just keep a database. I mean, there are some privacy issues that are around that. Explain a little bit, if you would.

    Mourtgos: Yeah, as far as suspects go, in our system, you’re innocent until proven guilty. And right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the system we have, and that’s the system we work under. And so, while these investigations do need to focus on the victim, there is another side to it that we have to take seriously, and we do take seriously, because whether we like it or not, wrongful convictions — I mean, if anybody is familiar with the Innocence Project, and everybody knows that they [wrongful convictions] do happen and that’s something that we take, as investigators, very seriously and don’t want to be any part of. So we do have to look at the other side of it. As far as getting DNA and things like that, we will talk to the suspect and sometimes they’ll give us consent. A lot of the times in these cases, they will admit to sexual contact, but the issue is consent. And they oftentimes will give us consent to take their DNA sample if we need to. However, in issues where it’s just consent, that might not even be needed because nobody’s questioning whether the sexual activity occurred or not.

    Burbank: So Scott, one more thing before we close that is really a question on a lot of people’s minds. What can a victim expect? How do you work with advocates? What does it entail for a victim?

    Mourtgos: Well, the very first thing we do, after we get a case, is we call the victim and kind of see where they’re at. There are some victims, unfortunately, that do not want to move forward with the process for a myriad of reasons. And we’re not in the business of forcing people [victims, specifically] to cooperate in a process that they don’t want to. Part of being an advocate for victims is empowering them, and that’s their decision and their choice [to participate in the investigation]. If they do want to move forward with the investigation, typically, we would have them come in because there are going to be questions and holes that need to be filled in the circumstances of the case that have not been filled in yet from the interview with the patrol officer and with the [SANE] nurse. And so we’ll have them come in and we’ll talk to them. And this is where sometimes, I think, maybe people kind of get a bad taste in their mouth because we have to ask them some questions to clarify things that happened during the assault. And, as I said before, these are questions that need to be asked, because they will come up in court, if that case goes to court. And I try very hard to let them know that, look, I’m not asking you these questions because I’m accusing you of anything or I think you’re lying, I just need to know the answers to these questions because you’ll get asked them in court, if we get to that point. And so, we’ll have them come in and we’ll do that second interview. That being said, you know, reliving the experience and talking about something that’s been very traumatic to them, and that’s why we do have victim advocates. They’re much more sensitive to the resources that are out there that can help these victims, and so I would usually have them come over after I’m done interviewing them and talk to the victim about different resources for them, any type of concerns that they might have to get off their chest with the victim advocate because they’re much better suited for that role than as a neutral investigator, which is what we [detectives] have to be in these cases are.

    Burbank: You know, Scott, one of the things that has impressed me, and it’s something that I take very person in my business, is the work that goes into this, when you talk about the detectives and the passion that they have. I know you are one of those individuals that stays up all night long to solve a case, that doesn’t worry about what day of the week, what time of night it is, and — it’s important to me, and I sincerely appreciate the good work of you and your peers in this particular area because I honestly think, and I said this the other night, that you fall into a category of some of the very best police officers that we have in the police department. Thank you so much for joining me today.

    Mourtgos: Thank you.

    Burbank: Something that’s very important is we are engaging in a project that we are going to look at every single kit that we have in evidence. We are going to conduct an evaluation, determine if there is evidentiary value towards that case or another case, and then we will post that publicly on our webpage. Visit us at slcpd.com and you can follow along some of what these types of investigations entail. Thank you again.

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