Sexual Assault

The Northwestern District Attorney's Office is committed to addressing and combatting sexual assault. These cases are handled by the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. For more information about domestic violence, please refer to the Domestic Violence page.

A devastating crime with far-reaching consequences, sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members. Assailants commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks.

Usually, a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent. Some types of sexual acts which fall under the category of sexual assault include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault and you want to make a report, contact the local police department in the town or city where the sexual assault occurred. In most circumstances, that police department will be the one that investigates the incident and brings charges.

However, if it occurred on a college campus, you should call the campus police. Also, in some situations, the state police will take over an investigation.

If you are thinking about reporting a sexual assault, but want to talk 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.

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 perpetrator in court. An Assistant District Attorney and a Victim/Witness Advocate will be assigned to your case and they 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 perpetrator, how long the case would take in court, and the potential outcome of the case including the potential penalty the perpetrator could face if convicted. You will then decide together whether to proceed with charges.

Except in very rare cases, the police and 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.

Please see our Reporting Sexual Assault to Law Enforcement: A Guide for Victims/Survivors Brochure and our Sexual Assault Resources page for information about help, advocacy and shelters.

In an emergency, always contact police by dialing 911.