Few studies have examined criminal justice responses to, and help-seeking patterns of, sexual assault survivors with disabilities. The goals of this study were to:
- Describe criminal justice reporting of sexual assault against persons with disabilities using administrative and case file data from a large metropolitan area's District Attorney's Office consisting of all sexual assault cases involving adults from 2008 to 2013 when the reported victim had a disability/was Deaf.
- Assess how cases of sexual assault survivors with disabilities proceeded through the criminal court system, using administrative data, case file reviews, and Assistant District Attorney and Victim-Witness Advocate informational interviews.
- Describe help-seeking experiences of sexual assault survivors with disabilities from formal and
informal sources, including influences on how and where they seek help, their experiences in
reporting, barriers to reporting, and outcomes of this reporting, drawn from interviews with
community-based survivors and service providers.
This study utilized a mixed-methods approach, using quantitative and qualitative data from: electronic administrative data, paper case file data, interviews with Assistant District Attorney, Victim-Witness Advocates, and supplemental interviews with community-based survivors and services providers in the same area. The administrative and case file data were collected for all sexual assault cases from 2008 to 2013 (the most recent years available) when the reported victim had a disability (n=417). Three types of data were gathered on referral, case facts, reported victims, and reported perpetrator(s).
There were three forms of data used in this study: Quantitative administrative data, Paper case files, and information from interviews. The administrative data was accessed through an electronic case management system. All 417 paper case files were used to fill in data missing in the electronic records and to record additional information not recorded in the electronic records. Paper case file data were merged with the electronic administrative data to form a dataset for all sexual assault cases against persons with disabilities handled by the DEU from 2008 to 2013. Lastly, interviews were held with district attorneys and victim witness advocates on case processing, decision points, and background for decisions.
All sexual assault cases involving adults from 2008 to 2013, when the reported victim had a disability and/or was deaf.
This study contains 1 data file called '2._Data_Sexual_Violence_Survivors_with_Disabilities.sav' consisting of 417 cases and 26 variables. All of the variables are related to three categories including: disability types, sexual assault, and case outcomes. For example some sexual assault variables include: psychiatric disability, physical/sensory disability, and intellectual/developmental disability. Examples of variables under the category of sexual assault are: rape, sexual assault, or indecent assault and battery. Lastly, closed without charges, referred to another unit (e.g. sexual assault unit or child/family unit), referred to lower court (municipal or district court), nolle prossed, heard by a grand jury, and convicted, are all variables related to case outcome.