News Release

May 2016

CFRC's Ted Cross Presents at Military Sexual Assault Prevention Summit

CFRC Senior Research Professor Ted Cross was invited to present his research at the First Responders Summit held April 14-15 by the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at historic Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, HI. Hickam Air Field endured the initial assault by Japanese planes on December 7, 1941, before they moved on to attack the naval fleet in the harbor. Now Hickam is providing leadership in improving the military’s response to its serious problem with sexual assault.

Dr. Cross teamed up with national experts Anne Munch, a consultant, municipal court judge, former prosecutor, and former director of Colorado’s Ending Violence Against Women’s Project; and Jennifer Freyd of the University of Oregon, a leading researcher on sexual assault and memory. The trio spoke first to unit leaders responsible for the safety and well-being of the service members under their command; and then to first responders such as victim advocates, forensic medical examiners, and mental health clinicians. Most of the approximately 100 participants were members of the Air Force, but several branches of the military were represented.

Dr. Cross shared insights from his National Institute Justice-funded research on DNA and the criminal justice response to sexual assault. He illustrated how central DNA is to the prosecution of sexual assault and described its significant relationship to obtaining convictions. He emphasized the critical contribution survivors make when they undergo a forensic medical examination, and the importance of combining forensic methods with effective investigation and support for survivors. Ms. Munch discussed how myths about sexual assault and the predisposition toward blaming or discrediting victims impede investigation and prosecution, and suggested methods for overcoming this bias. Dr. Freyd presented her research that shows that institutional betrayal—the failure of a military unit, university, or other institution to respond seriously and supportively to victims in their community—exacerbates the negative emotional impact of the assault. Survivors who need to remain in these institutions despite the assault may experience “betrayal blindness” and fail to acknowledge to themselves or others the betrayal they feel, making recovery more difficult.

To view Dr. Cross’ presentation from the First Responders Summit, click here (PDF, 400KB).

For more information on Dr. Cross’ research program on forensic evidence and sexual assault, click here.

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