Specter Urges Director Mueller for Response on FBI Definition of Rape Cases

Specter Urges Director Mueller for Response on FBI Definition of Rape Cases

Draws attention to failures of current method of reportingWashington, D.C. – Senate Judiciary Committee member Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) sent a letter Wednesday to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller urging the Director to review testimony provided at a this week’s Senate Judiciary Crime Subcommittee hearing entitled “Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases.”  The hearing investigated the systemic underreporting and mishandling of rape cases in the United States, and questioned the accuracy of the Department of Justice’s statistics regarding rape.

“There was a broad consensus among the witnesses that the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) definition of rape (‘the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will’) fails to capture rape committed against the victim’s will without force, statutory rape, rape of males, oral or anal penetration, or penetration with a foreign object,” Specter wrote.

Carol E. Tracy, Executive Director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia and a witness at the hearing, has long proposed changes to the UCR definition of rape.  These changes would bring the UCR definition in line with a modern understanding of the crime.  Letters Ms. Tracy wrote in 2001 to the Director, detailing her suggestions, were enclosed with the Senator’s letter.   Professor Michelle Madden Dempsey from Villanova Law School, also a witness, suggested that the Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook be updated to create incentives for thorough police investigation of rape and sexual assault.  Professor Dempsey’s testimony, detailing her proposed solutions, was also enclosed.

Senator Specter requested from the Director a prompt response to the Senate Judiciary Crime Subcommittee “as the issue has been around for quite some time.”

A PDF of the Senator’s letter and enclosures is attached.


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