Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Alexis Kennedy

Second Committee Member

William Sousa

Third Committee Member

Jessica Word

Fourth Committee Member

Larry Ashley

Number of Pages



The crime of sexual assault is substantially underreported; yet, when victims do report, often times they are met with skepticism and blaming attitudes by law enforcement. Literature shows that sexual assault victims report being further traumatized by the harsh methods used by police and investigators. The effects of rape are aggravated when victims have a negative experience upon reporting, making this a serious concern. Efforts have been made to improve victim treatment but with little success. With reform efforts dating back to the 1970s, the question that must be asked is why is this still a problem? Most articles on this topic focus on the victims and their experiences; yet, there is a major gap in the literature when studying the detectives themselves and their experiences. The purpose of this study is to understand why some detectives are resistant to using a sensitive interviewing style with victims. In depth interviews of 20 sexual assault detectives and sergeants from a large metropolitan police department were conducted. Five main reasons for resisting sensitive interviewing styles were found. Theoretical and practical applications of the findings are also discussed including advice to prevent sexual assault and recommendations to improve victim treatment from law enforcement.


Detectives; Interviewing in law enforcement – Technique; Law enforcement; Police; Police questioning; Rape; Rape victims; Sexual abuse victims; Sexual assault; Victimization


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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