Daniel Flannery, PhD

Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor
Director of Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

PhD, The Ohio State University

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel
School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-7164


Daniel Flannery is the Dr. Semi J. and Ruth Begun Professor and Director of the Begun Center for Violence PreventionResearch and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). His primary areas of research are in youth violence prevention, the link between violence and mental health, and program evaluation.
Read full biosketch.

The Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

DANIEL J. FLANNERY, Ph.D is Director of the Begun Center. He has written articles for The New England Journal of Medicine and for Developmental Psychology and has published several books discussing topics such as school violence, violence and mental health, and violent behavior and aggression. His most recent book, Wanted on Warrants: The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program, chronicles Dan’s involvement in the United State Marshal’s Fugitive Safe Surrender Program. | Read More |beguncenterweb
The Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Educationis a research center in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. The Begun Center has a long record of applied community-based research, training, advocacy, and technical assistance over the past two decades.The Begun Center’s professional staff of 25 social scientists, some with a master’s degree, other with a Ph.D. in a wide range of disciplines including psychology, education, social work, sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice, includes nationally recognized scholars whose publications are well cited in research on exposure to violence, mental health, youth gangs, correctional management, and organizational culture. These researchers have experience in county, state, and federally funded research and evaluation projects, including large-scale multi-state and multi-county designs.

Flannery, D.J. (In press).  Wanted on Warrants: The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program.  Kent, OH: Kent State University Press.

Brunell, A., Davis, M., Schley, D., Eng, A., Van Dulmen, M., Wester, K., & Flannery, D. (In press).  A new measure of interpersonal exploitativeness.  Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences.

Baughman, M., Hussey, D., Flannery, D., & Jefferis, E. (In press). Adolescent delinquency and violent behavior.  In T. Gullotta & G. Adams, Eds., Handbook of Adolescent Behavioral Problems: Evidence-based approaches to prevention and treatment.  New York: Springer.

Kretschmar, J., Butcher, F., & Flannery, D. (In press).  Aspects of bullying and its relationship to suicide.  In Van Dulmen, M., Bossarte, R. & Swahn, M. (Eds.),  Developmental and Public Health  Perspectives on Suicide Prevention:  An Integrated Approach.  SkiKnow Press.

Mata, A., van Dulmen, M., Schinka, K., Swahn, M., Bossarte, R., & Flannery, D.J., (in press).  Extracurricular activity involvement is associated with adolescent suicidality through school belongingness.  Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies.

Flannery, D.J., van Dulmen, M.H., & Mata, A. (in press).  Developmental trajectories of exposure to violence.  In M.J. Delisi & K. Beaver (Eds.),  The life-Course of Antisocial Behavior:  Aggression to Delinquency to Crime.  Boston, MA:  Jones & Bartlett.

Flannery, D.J., Modzeleski, W., & Kretschmar, J. (2013).  Violence and school shootings. Invited Paper. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15, 331-337.

Kretschmar, J.M., Butcher, F., & Flannery, D. (2013).  An evaluation of the behavioral health/juvenile justice initiative.  Behavioral Health in Ohio—Current Research Trends1(2), 18-30.

Flannery, D.J., & Kretschmar, J. (2012).  Overview of Fugitive Safe Surrender:   Program description,  initial findings, and policy implications.  Criminology and Public Policy, 11, 433-435.

Flannery, D.J., & Kretschmar, J. (2012).  Fugitive Safe Surrender:  Program description, initial findings, and policy implications.  Criminology and Public Policy, 11, 437-459.

Kretschmar, J., & Flannery, D. J. (2011). Displacement and suicide risk for juvenile justice-involved youth with mental health issues. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40, 797–806.

Flannery, D., van Dulmen, M. H., & Mata, A. (2010). Developmental trajectories of exposure to violence. In M.J. Delisi & K. Beaver (Eds.), Criminological theory: A life-course approach. Boston, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Fleisher, M. S., & Flannery, D. J. (2010). Harm reduction strategies within multi-cultural schools. In S. Uludag, C. Dogutas, O. Dolu, & H. Burker (Eds.), Children at risk and in need of protection: Safe schools (pp. 205–224). Anakara, Turkey: TBMM Basimevi.

Listwan, S. J., Colvin, M., Hanley, D., & Flannery, D. J. (2010). Victimization, social support, and psychological well-being: A study of recently released prisoners. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37, 1140–1159.

Seck, M., Singer, M., & Flannery, D. J. (2010). Psychological and social characteristics of juvenile offenders with serious mental and behavioral disorders. Corrections Compendium, 35(1),1–7.

Flannery, D., Singer, M., van Dulmen, M., Kretschmar, J., & Belliston, L. (2009). Exposure to violence: Mental health and violent behavior. In. D. Flannery, A. Vazsonyi, & I. Waldman (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior & Aggression (pp. 306–321). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Van Dulmen, M., Goncy, E., Vest, A. & Flannery, D., (2009). Group-Based Trajectory Modeling of Externalizing Behavior Problems from Childhood through Adulthood:  Exploring Discrepancies in the Empirical Findings.  In J. Savage (Ed.), The Development of Persistent Criminality (pp. 288–314). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

helpWanted on Warrants: The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program
Since 2005, the Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program has been implemented in more than twenty cities around the country. Tens of thousands of individuals with active warrants for their arrest have voluntarily surrendered to law enforcement in a church or other neutral setting. The sites are transformed for four days into complete justice systems with pretrial-intake, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and probation/parole and community services staff. Author Daniel J. Flannery has gathered information on who turns themselves in, what the warrant is for, how long the warrant has been active, and what happens to the individual. This collaborative initiative between local and federal law enforcement and community faith-based organizations is unique and has proven to be a successful program that is being copied and initiated throughout the country. ‘Wanted on Warrants’ offers valuable insights into what happens during and after an FSS program and will be welcomed by policymakers and practitioners. | Learn More |

helpThe Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression
This Handbook provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary examination of the most current research and thinking about the complex issue of violence and violent behavior. The volume examines a range of theoretical, policy, and research issues and provides a comprehensive overview of aggressive and violent behavior. The Handbook also examines violence at multiple levels: individual, family, neighborhood, and cultural, and across multiple perspectives and systems, including treatment, justice, education, and public health. The Handbook represents the most current and up-to-date research from leading experts around the world. | Learn More |


helpViolence and Mental Health in Everyday Life
Clinical psychologist Daniel J. Flannery reveals the impact of violence and victimization in the lives of children and adolescents from a developmental perspective. His case studies show the significance of these mental health issues for the individual, family, neighborhood, and community. He offers lists of professional networks and support, including web sites and readings related to violence and mental health, creating a valuable resource for parents, teachers, social workers, childcare workers, public health officials, police officers and others who interact every day with young people, to help them understand more about child development and how experiences with violence can affect development and daily life. | Learn More |

helpYouth Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Social Policy
Scholars, public officials, and reporters have described the violence of this decade as epidemic as the homicide rate has doubled for adolescents between 1984 and 1994. Current policy to combat youth violence is primarily reactive, focusing on increased punishments and spending millions of dollars each year on incarceration. Providing the latest research on effective prevention and intervention strategies for reducing youth violence, ‘Youth Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Social Policy’ is a comprehensive resource for dealing with both perpetrators and victims of violence and understanding the risk factors facing youth. It covers results from tested prevention and intervention programs including practical descriptions, core components for success, evaluation findings, costs, and lessons learned from actual implementations. It also covers intervention techniques that teach pro-social behavior to anti-social youth as well as psychopharmacological and neurobiological issues in the treatment of violent youth. It also provides an extensive reference list of over 700 publications and studies, a practical volume with wide audience appeal, including sociologists, criminologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, educators, counselors, and nurses. | Learn More |

White House Summit | “Taking Action: Creating Model Emergency Management Plans for Schools, Institutions of Higher Education and Houses of Worship”

Participated in a panel discussion for Institutions of Higher Education moderated by FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely. The other two panels were Schools, moderated by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Houses of Worship, moderated by then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. | Learn More |

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office | “No More Massacres: How to Prevent School-Based Violence”

In this special two-day seminar – presented by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon City, Oregon – Dan focused on community-based violence prevention for school administrators, first responders, mental-health personnel, social workers. and juvenile and corrections staffers. | Learn More |

Big Beaver Falls High School | “Sensible Solutions: A One-Day School Violence Seminar”

Dan participates in a one-day seminar this October which includes leaders of Sandy Hook Promise, two of whom tragically lost children in a classroom, as well as other dedicated experts who conducted and continue to research realistic solutions to the serious problem of violence. | Learn More |

Defending Childhood Initiative
Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or as witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence. In 2010, United States Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative to address the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The Begun Center serves as the evaluation partner for the Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood project. Evaluation activities include identification of appropriate assessment instruments, analysis of screening and pre/post test data for youth receiving trauma-informed care, evaluation of training sessions held for the child-serving agencies in the area, and possible assessment of the effectiveness of a community awareness campaign.
| View Full Project Overview |

Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS)
The Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program is a unique, creative, and highly successful initiative that encourages persons wanted for non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to the law in a faith-based or other neutral setting. The program was originally managed nationally by the United States Marshals Service and is currently funded and managed through Ohio’s Attorney General’s Office. FSS is a community re-entry program for wanted non-violent offenders and offers individuals with felony and misdemeanor warrants the ability to turn themselves in to law enforcement and have their cases adjudicated in a safe and non-violent environment. The goal of Fugitive Safe Surrender is to reduce the risk to law enforcement officers who pursue fugitives, to the neighborhoods in which they hide, and to the fugitives themselves. Authorized by Congress in July 2006, Fugitive Safe Surrender is believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation. The Begun Center provides evaluation services for the FSS program and has been onsite at over 20 FSS operations since 2006. | View Full Project Overview |

In the News

Research Colloquium: Sexual Assault Kits – Changing What We Know About Rape

Oct 20 2016


Friday, October 28, 2016

Colloquium: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Meet the Speakers: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT


All are invited to attend the research colloquium, Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape, at 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. EST on Friday, October 28, 2016, in room #108 of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Studies Center at 11402 Bellflower Road on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

This FREE event includes lunch. 1.5 social work CEUs are available for in-person attendees ($10 for CWRU alumni; $25 for non-alumni). To attend online via livestream, click the livestream option when RSVPing and you will be provided a link as the date approaches. No CEUs are available for people who attend via live stream.

Sponsored by the Mandel School’s Office of Research Administration and the Doctoral Program, 2016-2017 Research & Training Colloquia are part of the Centennial Speaker Series and are “Featuring Our Own,” spotlighting the school’s own groundbreaking research.


Starting in 2013, the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force began investigating and prosecuting cases from approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs from 1993 to 2010. For the Cuyahoga County SAK Pilot Research Project, a research team at the Begun Center at the Mandel School coded a random sample of 243 SAKs with completed investigations and either resulted in prosecution or were not pursued due to insufficient evidence. This presentation will provide an overview of the issue with unsubmitted SAKs, key findings from the research, and how these findings are being used to inform and reform rape investigations and prosecutions.


Rachel Lovell, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

Daniel Flannery, PhD, Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor and Director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

Misty Luminais, PhD, Senior Research Assocate and Project Coordinator, Social Justice Institute


Mandel School students receive 1.5 PD hours for attending (online and intensive weekend students who watch via livestream can receive 1.5 PD hours by submitting a brief summary to their field advisor). On-campus students can also visit with the speakers immediately following the colloquium.

For more details about this and other Mandel School Centennial Speaker Series events, visit http://msass.case.edu/Centennial

Questions? Please email MandelSchool@case.edu or call 216.368.2270

2016-2017 Research Colloquia Series Announced

Sep 8 2016

Elizabeth M. Tracy, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and Training at the Mandel School, announced the 2016-2017 Research and Training Colloquia. Part of the Centennial Speaker Series, this year’s colloquia will feature the Mandel School’s own groundbreaking research. The events are free, open to all, and include lunch. Those who want CEUs may purchase them ($10 for alumni; $25 for non-alumni). Students will receive PD hours for each colloquium and can visit with speakers immediately following their presentations.

All of the events are from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. at the Mandel Community Studies Center (11402 Bellflower) Room 108 unless otherwise noted. The 2016-2017 colloquia are:

Longitudinal Study of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure:  Methodological Issues and Findings
Wednesday, September 21 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  | Mandel Community Studies Center Room 115

Dr. Gale Richardson from the University of Pittsburgh will discuss the methodological issues involved in studying drug use during pregnancy at a Distinguished Lecture Series event on Wednesday, September 21, at 12:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the Mandel Community Studies Center. She will describe her longitudinal study of prenatal cocaine exposure and highlight some of the findings from this 25-year program of research.

Gale A. Richardson, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Over an academic career spanning 30 years, she has published numerous peer reviewed articles on the developmental effects of prenatal cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana exposure and has an extensive record of NIH-funded research and training grants.

Career Trajectories for Women in Academic Research

As part of the Distinguished Lecture Series, Dr. Gale Richardson will meet with students, faculty and staff to describe her career trajectory in academic research and will lead an informal discussion on factors to consider in choosing a career path. This event is on Thursday, September 22, at noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women at the Tinkham Veale University Center on campus.

Sexual Assault Kits:  Changing What We Know About Rape
Friday, October 28 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Starting in 2013, the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force began investigating and prosecuting cases from approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs from 1993 to 2010. For the Cuyahoga County SAK Pilot Research Project, a research team at the Begun Center at the Mandel School coded a random sample of 243 SAKs with completed investigations and either resulted in prosecution or were not pursued due to insufficient evidence. This presentation will provide an overview of the issue with unsubmitted SAKs, key findings from the research, and how these findings are being used to inform and reform rape investigations and prosecutions.

Rachel Lovell, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
Daniel Flannery, PhD, Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor and Director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
Misty Luminais, PhD, Senior Research Associate and Project Coordinator, Social Justice Institute

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction:  A Remedy That Needs More Than Medicine
Friday, November 11 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

A report of data from the Begun Center’s evaluation of certified drug courts in Ohio, a state that has realized large increases in opioid-related morbidity and mortality. Their sample of 404 drug court participants at intake suggests a variety of comorbid problems including mental illness, violence exposure, serious health risk behaviors and low educational, housing and employment statuses. The results will be discussed in the contexts of clinical programs and state/national policy.

Margaret Baughman Sladky, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
Mark Singer, PhD, Leonard W. Mayo Professor of Family and Child Welfare and Deputy Director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

Use of Community Data by Nonprofits:  Opportunities and Challenges
Friday, January 27 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Nonprofit organizations strive to build and serve the community in a variety of ways. A relatively new development to assist nonprofits with this critical task is the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that incorporate data assembled from area nonprofit organizations. Based on in-depth interviews conducted with 18 sites in the U.S. that have adopted a prominent GIS application, this presentation explores the reasons why nonprofits adopt these systems, their inclusion of various stakeholders in their launch, and the challenges for sustaining GIS use.

Robert Fischer, PhD, Research Professor; Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development; Faculty Director of the Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) Program.

Consensus-based Assessment Tool of Community Readiness and Capacity for Farmers’ Market Implementation
Friday, February 10 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Nutrition-related policy, system, and environmental (PSE) change interventions such as farmers’ markets have been recommended as effective strategies for promoting healthy diet for chronic disease prevention. Tools are needed to assess community readiness and capacity factors influencing successful farmers’ market implementation among diverse practitioners in different contexts. The goal of this presentation is to describe a multiphase consensus modeling approach used to develop a diagnostic tool for assessing community readiness and capacity to implement farmers’ market interventions among public health and community nutrition practitioners working with low-income populations in diverse contexts. Findings illuminate a range of implementation factors influencing farmers’ market PSE interventions and offer guidance for tailoring intervention delivery based on levels of community, practitioner, and organizational readiness and capacity.

Eun Lye Lee, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine
Darcy Friedman, PhD, Associate Professor, Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine
Jarrod Dalton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Navigating HIPAA, FERPA and the IRB:  Leverage Big Data to Better Serve Children and Families
Friday, February 24 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Integrated data systems (IDS) provide significant value for needs identification, program planning, and evaluation across a broad range of social issues. In this colloquium, we highlight lessons learned about the use of Protected Health Information (PHI) from two research studies: 1) a county-funded evaluation of early childhood mental health service receipt, and 2) a longitudinal analysis of the association between lifetime lead exposure and kindergarten readiness.

Elizabeth Anthony, PhD, Research Assistant Professor
Robert Fischer, PhD, Researcher Professor and Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

Cleveland Effective Neighboring Project
Friday, March 24 | 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

“Effective neighboring” is the process of neighbors from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds, establishing a level of familiarity and shared expectations that enable them to live comfortably together. The goal of this project is to learn from existing examples of effective neighboring in Cleveland and determine how to promote and sustain it in more areas of our city and other cities.

Mark Joseph, PhD, Associate Professor; Director, National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities
Mark Chupp, PhD, Assistant Professor; Director, International Education Program

Research reveals new insights into rapist behavior, assists rape investigations and prosecutions

Jun 29 2016

sexual assault kit testingNew data challenges conventional wisdom about rape among scholars, advocates, police and prosecutors.

The testing of nearly 5,000 forgotten and backlogged rape kits in Cuyahoga County has led to investigations, indictments, prosecutions—and, already more than 250 convictions.

But besides bringing justice to long-ignored victims and taking scores of violent offenders off the streets, the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force are also helping to change how law enforcement agencies and the academic community view and prosecute rape.

That’s because the Task Force has partnered with researchers from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Mandel School, and has given unprecedented access to information on hundreds of sexual assaults committed between 1993 and 2010.

The research team discovered serial rapists are far more common than previous research suggested—a finding that could change how sexual assaults, including so-called acquaintance rapes, are investigated. They are also learning more about how rapists operate and their victims — research that has received international media coverage in The Daily Mail, Washington Post, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Jezebel and more.

“By working together, we can help change the way sexual assaults are investigated and how the system and society view sexual assaults, victims, and offenders,” said Daniel J. Flannery, PhD, the Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor at the Mandel School, director of the Begun Center, and co-lead researcher of the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Pilot Research Project. “We have an historical opportunity and obligation to make a difference.”

“These rape kits have been the greatest gold mine of information and leads for law enforcement that I have seen in my four-decade career,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. “We are going to end up prosecuting a thousand criminals, and that will make our county significantly safer. But we also want to learn from mistakes that created this backlog and never allow them to be repeated.”

“The thousand or more cases we expect to solve will help us understand the behavior of these career criminals so that police can more effectively and promptly investigate and prosecute rapes. This task force will prevent new victims from being attacked because these criminals will be in prison,” McGinty added.

Among the research team’s early findings, available in a series of briefs online:

Serial rapists are far more common than previous studies had suggested. Of the 243 sexual assaults studied, 51 percent were tied to serial offenders, who generally had more extensive and violent criminal histories than one-time sexual offenders.

“Our findings suggest it is very likely that a sexual offender has either previously sexually assaulted or will offend again in the future,” said Rachel Lovell, PhD, a senior research associate at the Begun Center and co-leader of the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Pilot Research Project. “Investigating each sexual assault as possibly perpetrated by a serial offender has the potential to reduce the number of sexual assaults if investigations focus more on the offender than on single incidents.”

Rapists have long criminal histories that often began before their first documented sexual assault and continued after it.

An overwhelming majority of both serial and one-time sexual offenders had felony-level criminal histories: 74 percent of all serial rapists had at least one prior felony arrest and 95 percent of them had at least one subsequent felony arrest. Among one-time sexual assault offenders, the figures were 51 percent and 78 percent.

Among the serial sex offenders, 26 percent had a prior arrest for sexual assault and 60 percent had a subsequent arrest for sexual assault (not related to the sexual assault identified in the SAK Initiative).

“These are one-man crime waves,” said Prosecutor McGinty. “And now that we realize this, we cannot allow these kits to sit on shelves untested in the future. They hold the keys to identifying and convicting dangerous criminals.”

Serial and one-time rape suspects exhibited different behaviors during their crimes.
For example, sexual assaults committed by serial offenders more frequently involved kidnapping victims and then verbally and physically threatening them, often with weapons. And yet sexual assaults committed by serial offenders less frequently involved restraining victims and injuring them in order to complete the attack. One-time offenders were actually more likely to punch, slap, hold down or restrain a victim.

Serial offenders were more likely to commit sexual assault outdoors, in a vehicle, or a garage while a one-time offender was more likely to attack in his own house, or the house of the victim or a third party. Serial sexual offenders tend to attack in the same type of location: 58 percent of serial offenders commit all of their crimes in the same type of setting.

One-time offenders are more likely than serial offenders to commit sexual assaults with others, such as participating in gang rapes.

Serial offenders were more frequently strangers to their victims compared to one-time offenders.

Half the serial offenders assaulted only strangers, but fully a third of them had a mix of known and unknown individuals among their victims. This underscores the need to thoroughly investigate acquaintance rapes, because of the possibility those offenders have or will engage in assaults against strangers, too.

Also of note: Even in cases of assaults by strangers, victims frequently provided some kind of identifying information to police, such as a partial name, a nickname or a license plate.

Most victims, even in the backlog, initially cooperated with police. The drop-off came after the first reporting encounter between investigators and victims: 69 percent did not respond to further attempts to be contacted by police.

Victims in the cases studied—all but three of them female—ranged in age from two to 70, with an average age of 26. Nearly 70 percent were African American, a reflection of the neighborhoods where the incidents documented in the backlogged rape kits took place.

In 2013, Prosecutor McGinty organized the multi-agency Task Force to investigate DNA evidence generated by Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative. A year later, McGinty approached the Begun Center to mine data accumulated through the testing, investigation and prosecution of nearly 5,000 rape kits collected but not tested for DNA between 1993 and 2010.

Researchers coded police and investigative reports, DNA lab reports, and criminal histories of victims and defendants identified through DNA testing—histories that in many cases include lengthy lists of arrests, convictions and violent incidents.

“We can start to say we have a better picture of who victims are and who offenders are,” said Lovell.

“Also, we know more about how offenders rape. How cases moved through the process—or failed to move to prosecution. How can we do a better job of holding offenders accountable. We have data on a larger and more diverse group of rapists, which allows us a better understanding of what kind of rapists commit certain kinds of crimes—and how this information can aid an investigation,” Lovell added.

Prosecutor McGinty said the Task Force has been “phenomenally successful.” To date, 462 defendants responsible for more than 500 sexual assaults have been indicted. Prosecutors have won convictions in 92 percent of completed cases, with an average sentence of 10 years. A team of investigators, advocates and prosecutors is currently working on more than 2,700 cases.

“Law enforcement greatly underestimated the positive results that would come out of investigating these rape kits,” Prosecutor McGinty said. “We are identifying, prosecuting and punishing some of the most dangerous violent repeat offenders in our communities. The research now coming out of the Begun Center is reinforcing the importance of this work, not only in Cuyahoga County, but nationally.”

As researchers move forward with this project, they hope to explore additional topics, including a deeper understanding of different types of serial and one-time offenders, the characteristics of victims that significantly impact an investigation and prosecution of a rape allegation, and how communication between police and victim affects continued victim cooperation.

Additional funding to expand the Begun Center’s research came last fall as part of $2 million Department of Justice grant to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to support the work of the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force.

“The experience of collecting a rape kit is invasive and especially so right after a victim has been traumatically assaulted. These victims did what they have been asked to do to preserve evidence—but that evidence just sat, untested,” said Lovell. “The new processes we hope will emerge from our effort will better honor victims.”

In addition to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Task Force includes the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Cleveland Division of Police Sex Crimes Unit, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Additional researchers on the project from the Begun Center include: Fredrick Butcher, a research associate on the project; and Tiffany Walker and Laura Overman, both research assistants.