Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Kaarin Long spent the better part of two years compiling the Ramsey County Sexual Assault Systems Review, a comprehensive analysis of 646 sexual assault reports made in the county from 2013 through early 2016. The review was released this April.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi tapped Long to lead the review after determining his office “didn’t have a good sense of what we were doing to address sexual assault,” said Long, an experienced sexual assault prosecutor who managed to find time for two jury trials while finalizing the review.
Long’s work established a much-needed baseline for sexual assault reports, investigations, and prosecutions in Ramsey County. Her team spoke with police investigators and victim advocates to identify synergies and gaps in their collaboration. The team also reached out to non-reporting sexual assault survivors to learn why they didn’t approach law enforcement, though that effort was hampered by survivors’ reticence and her interviewing team’s small size.
The results of the review were “similar to what we see in national social science literature,” said Long, and identified clear opportunities to improve Ramsey County law enforcement’s approach to sexual assault. Law enforcement forwarded about 30 percent of all sexual assault reports to county prosecutors, who filed charges in 37 percent of active cases, according to the review. Seven in 10 charged cases resulted in convictions.
Long’s review is already making a difference. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office provided temporary funding to the St. Paul Police Department for two additional sex crimes investigators and two additional victim advocates. A grant application to fund a new sexual assault prosecutor position in the Ramsey County Attorney’s office is also pending, said Long.
“We expect a lot from criminal justice agencies, but funding doesn’t keep pace with those expectations,” she said.