Sexual Assault Reporting
Sexual assault is a violent crime with far-reaching consequences and occurs when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent. These sexual acts occur in several different ways, including forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape, or as unwanted sexual contact or threats. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members, and can commit sexual assault using of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks.
If you are thinking about reporting a sexual assault, but want to speak to someone about it first, you can call your free, local, 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline for confidential counseling, emotional support, information, and medical and legal advocacy. They can provide someone to meet you at the police department or hospital. You can also call the Victim/Witness Unit at the District Attorney’s Office and speak with an advocate about the process of making a report and bringing a case to court.
If you decide to make a report, contact the local police department in the town or city where the sexual assault occurred, or the Berkshire County State Police Detective Unit. In most circumstances, the police department in the city or town will be the one that investigates the incident and brings charges. In some situations, the state police will take over an investigation. If a sexual assault happens on a college campus, the victim may report the assault to campus police or local police.
Generally, the police refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office prior to filing for any criminal charges. The District Attorney’s Office will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with charges against the assailant in court. An Assistant District Attorney and a Victim/Witness Advocate will be assigned to your case and will meet with you in person. They will explain the process of going forward with a case in court, including what role you would have in the case, what charges could be brought against the assailant, the length of time the case will generally take, and the potential outcome of the case – including the potential penalties the assailant could face if convicted. With this information, you decide whether to proceed with charges.
The District Attorney’s Office will not proceed with sexual assault charges unless you want that to happen. Even after you make a report, you still have control in the process and your input will always be part of the decisions made by the police and the District Attorney’s Office.
For more information about domestic violence, please refer to the Domestic Violence page.
The Berkshire Attorney’s Office is committed to addressing and combatting sexual assault. These cases are handled by the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office Special Victim’s Unit, under the guidance of the Unit Chief Assistant District Attorney Heather Valentine.