Sexual Assault Exonerations Help Women, Advocate Argues


Ninety percent of the 182 cases of people who have been exonerated with DNA testing have involved sexual assault, says Maddy deLone of The Innocence Project in a commentary on Women’s eNews. DeLone acknowledges that “some people wonder whether our work serves the interests of rape survivors and women generally.” She argues that “it does in very specific, individual ways, and also more broadly and profoundly.”

Says DeLone: “When the wrong man is convicted of assaulting a woman, nobody sees justice. The true perpetrator can remain at large, unpunished for a horrible crime and able to rape again.” In one-third of the 182 exonerations, DNA has been used to help identify the true perpetrator. The leading cause of wrongful convictions, playing a factor in about 75 percent of the exoneration cases, is eyewitness misidentification. DeLone cites “flawed law enforcement techniques that lead crime victims to identify a suspect who police already presume is guilty,” and discusses changes in police lineup procedures that have been adopted in many jurisdictions.


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