About Sexual Assault



Sexual assault (sometimes referred to as rape) is an act of violence where a sex act is used as the weapon. The crime of sexual assault cuts across all gender, culture, and age barriers; anyone can be at risk of sexual assault. Additionally, there is no typical sexual assault perpetrator; the offender could be someone unknown to the victim, or it could be a trusted family member, a friend or an acquaintance.

Sexual assault is one of the most violent and least reported crimes in the United States. Statistics have shown that fewer than twenty percent of these crimes are ever reported to the police. Some victims do not report due to fear, embarrassment and/or trauma. Others fear retaliation by the perpetrator. Some fear media attention. Still others lack faith in the criminal justice system. Some are reluctant to report the crime because their own actions involved risky or illegal behavior.

Prosecution of sexual assault cases can be difficult for a variety of reasons. First, the victim and perpetrator are usually the only witnesses to the crime. Where the parties are acquainted, the suspect will often claim that the sexual act was consensual. Additionally, many commonly-accepted myths about sexual assault are pervasive in our society. For example, many people expect that a “real” victim of sexual assault would fight off his or her attacker, would immediately report to the police, would be completely cooperative in the prosecution, and would never have contact with the offender after the assault. Experience has shown that these assumptions are often not valid.Many victims are compliant during the assault to avoid further harm, others wait long periods of time before reporting, some do not want to be involved in the case, and still others may continue a relationship with the perpetrator after the attack. Put simply, there is no typical behavior for the victim of a sexual assault.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to the aggressive prosecution of these difficult cases and to ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes. Through partnerships with various community agencies, the DA’s Office is working to ensure a coordinated multi-agency response to sexual assaults, which will provide victims with access to all possible services and resources.