He Said, She Said: Finding the Truth in a Sex Assault Case

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States, reports that every 68 seconds, an American is a victim of sexual assault. On average, there are 463,634 victims of sexual assault age 12 and older each year. Females aged 16 to 19 are four times more likely to be a victim than any other segment of the population.

Sexual assault is a serious matter, and if you’re facing an investigation or charge of sexual assault in Ohio, the consequences can be severe if you’re convicted. 

Both victim and the alleged offender, when entering into a trial situation, may feel that everything is back and forth between what he said and she said. The male defendant may feel that juries always believe the woman, and the accuser may feel that juries often dismiss female testimony as false or made up.

While testimony by the victim and or the defendant will have relevance in a sexual assault case, the use of other evidence, such as DNA or eyewitnesses to the initial encounter of the two, may also play a decisive role.

If you’re being investigated or charged with sexual assault in Columbus, Ohio, contact Wolfe Law Group, LLC immediately. The criminal defense attorneys are trial-tested and can aggressively protect your rights throughout the legal process. The attorneys at Wolfe Law Group, LLC proudly serve clients in Columbus, Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard, Newark, Heath, or anywhere else in Ohio.

Ohio Laws on Sexual Assault

Under Ohio Revised Codes Sections 2907.02 and 2907.03, sexual assault has two crimes, including rape and sexual battery. The definition of rape is “any form of unwanted sexual contact obtained without consent and or obtained through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion.”

Sexual battery encompasses sexual conduct with another person and often involves one person’s taking advantage of the other person – the victim. Examples include a teacher having sex with a student or a mental health professional taking advantage of a patient. Sexual battery also includes incidents when the victim cannot control their actions because of impairment.

Rape is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Sexual battery is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, along with mandatory listing on the Ohio Sex Offender Registry.

History of He Said, She Said

Under old English law, you could not charge a person with raping someone unless there were corroborating witnesses. Since rape rarely took place in public, this essentially barred rape cases from ever going to trial. The corroboration rule carried over into law in the United States.

In 1969, for instance, a study revealed that, of 1,085 arrests for rape in New York City, only 18 rape convictions were returned due to the corroboration requirement. Outcries over the requirement led New York and other states to repeal the requirement.

The legacy of he said she said still seems to dominate sexual assault cases. The defendant will invariably proclaim his innocence, and the accuser will point the finger at the defendant. The jury is left to decide whom to believe. Male defendants fear that the jury will always side with the female accuser, while the female fears that the jury will dismiss her testimony as false.

A bias against the female accuser comes from the belief that she’s making up the charge due to a revenge motive or some other underlying personal factor. Studies, however, have found that only between two and four percent of sexual assault accusations in the U.S. and Europe turn out to be false.

Finding the Truth

Attorneys on both sides of a sexual assault case will invariably seek to unearth evidence about something in the accuser’s or defendant’s past that can challenge their credibility. Past arrests or charges are certainly potent pieces in challenging someone and their testimony. Psychological and personality testing can also determine patterns of behavior.

As in Old English times, there are rarely any witnesses to an assault, but there can be witnesses to events leading up to the assault. For instance, the male defendant can be shown to have begun advances on the female at a bar or party, where witnesses saw them.

DNA evidence is also a potent weapon for the prosecution if it’s available. DNA testing would have to be done quickly after the assault to get an accurate result, however.

Defense Against Sexual Assault

Remember, if you are charged with any form of sexual assault, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to all the jurors that you are guilty. This is a high bar.

A defendant has two defenses: either denying the event happened or agreeing that it happened but not the way the alleged victim portrays it. For instance, the defendant and his counsel can argue that the sexual encounter was consensual.

An Experienced Defense Attorney Is Essential

Whenever you’re facing a criminal charge, attaining an experienced defense attorney from the very beginning is essential. It’s best to get a defense attorney on your side before you even answer police or prosecutor questions.

If you’re facing a sexual assault investigation or charge in Columbus, Ohio, contact Wolfe Law Group, LLC immediately. Let our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys fight for your rights and develop a strategy to obtain the best result possible. The Wolfe Law Group also proudly serves clients in Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard, and counties of Licking, Newark, Heath, Granville, Fairfield, Lancaster, Pickerington, Delaware, City of Delaware, Louis Center, Powell, Ohio.


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