In modern America, sex crimes are among the most egregious crimes that a person can be accused of committing. In addition to the very serious penalties that can be imposed on a person convicted of a sex crime, a defendant, whether they are found innocent or guilty, often carries a very real and very public stigma that can stay with them for the rest of their life. Our Michigan readers may have heard of a sex crimes case currently being investigated in Ann Arbor.
According to a news report, law enforcement agents in Ann Arbor are currently investigating three separate criminal sexual assaults involving taxi drivers. The incidents occurred near the University of Michigan over the last two months. As part of the investigation, police officers are trying to determine if any of the three assaults are related in some way. The first assault allegedly occurred last month, while the last two sexual assaults took place in February.
While there are certainly some superficial similarities between the three assaults, there are also some very dramatic differences. For one thing, while all of the events can be classified as sex crimes, sex crimes encompass a broad array of activity, from inappropriate touching to rape. Furthermore, while two of the incidents involve women who allege that a taxi driver touched them, one involves accusations of rape, a much different and more egregious crime.
Identifying the differences between crimes is important, because prosecutors often try to link the defendant in one case to the crimes in another based on little more than the similarities in the crimes themselves. This is known in the legal community as the defendant's "modus operandi" or mode of operation. While this may seem to produce a link between defendants, it is often fairly weak evidence, although persuasive, much like eyewitness testimony.
Source: CBS Detroit, "Police Investigate Taxi Driver Sex Assaults," Feb. 11, 2013