In an Emergency 24/7
From any campus phone,
call 4300 or 911
From a mobile phone,
call SMC dispatch
If off-campus, call 911
Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the complainant's person within 120 hours (5 days), though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should call the police in the city the assault took place. In order to preserve evidence, you should not wash yourself or your clothing.
The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at the hospital is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Room if you first want to speak to the nurse; ER will refer you). If you report to the SMC Police Department, they will support and can provide transportation to the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center. If a survivor goes to the hospital, local police will be called, but you are not obligated to give your name, talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available, but will not obligate you to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the complainant decide later to exercise it.
For the survivor: the hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns (if female) and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
Regardless of whether an incident of sexual misconduct is reported to the police or the College, SMC strongly encourages individuals who have experienced sexual assault/misconduct to preserve evidence to the greatest extent possible, as this will best maintain all legal options for them in the future.
Below are suggestions for preserving evidence related to an incident of sexual misconduct. It is important to keep in mind that each suggestion may not apply in every incident:
- Do not alter, dispose of, or destroy any physical evidence.
- If there is suspicion that a drink may have been drugged, inform a medical assistance provider and/or law enforcement as soon as possible so they can attempt to collect possible evidence (e.g., from the drink, through urine or blood sample).
- Preserve evidence of electronic communications by saving them and/or by taking screen shots of text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, or other electronic communications, and by keeping pictures, logs, or copies of documents that relate to the incident and/or perpetrator.
- Even if survivors choose not to make a complaint regarding sexual misconduct, they should nevertheless consider speaking with University Police or other law enforcement to preserve evidence in the event that they change their mind at a later date.
Suggestions Specific to Sexual Assault
- Because some evidence, particularly evidence that may be located on the body, dissipates quickly (within 48-96 hours), individuals who have been sexually assaulted and wish to preserve evidence should go to a hospital or medical facility immediately to seek a medical examination and/or evidence collection.
- An individual who has been sexually assaulted should not shower, bathe, douche, smoke, brush teeth, eat, drink, or change clothes or bedding before going to the hospital or seeking medical attention.
- If the individual who has been sexually assaulted decides to change clothes or bedding, they should not wash the clothes worn or bedding used during the assault, and should bring them to a hospital, medical facility or the police in a non-plastic bag (e.g., paper bag).
- Individuals who have been sexually assaulted may allow the collection of evidence even if they choose not to make a report to law enforcement. After the evidence is collected.