New way to prosecute rapes, interview victims proving successful for WVC police

New way to prosecute rapes, interview victims proving successful for WVC police (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) West Valley City police say they've been cracking down on sex crimes and the say their efforts are yielding success.

Investigators say they've changed their protocol to be more thorough in testing physical evidence but the bigger difference is the way they treat victims.

Michelle Worthen was raped and she says the West Valley detective, Justin Boardman, believed her and helped her.

"He let me tell the story in the way I wanted. He let me know he would believe me and that what I say matters," Worthen said. "It was absolutely the best thing a detective could do for a victim."

West Valley police adopted a new way to talk to rape victims who are often in shock and who need help.

"Return empowerment to the victim, restore respect, reduce stress."

Police send every rape kit to the lab for testing and they allowed BYU rape scholar and police critic Julie Valentine inside the department for a study.

"It really is amazing they would allow that transparency," Valentine said.

She found that before the changes West Valley got convictions at the county average of six percent of rape cases. Afterwards, they got convictions in 22 percent of rape cases.

"The interview process has been a game changer."

Worthen has become an activist and talked to women who were not treated well by police.

"When that happens they shut down; there is no reason for them to come forward. If law-enforcement is not on your side, the case is close," she said.

See the full story on video with Rod Decker.

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