To CATCH a serial offender: Army offers new sexual assault prevention tool
By G. Anthonie RiisOctober 4, 2019
The Department of Defense working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service developed the Catch a Serial Offender or CATCH Program- a website that allows sexual assault survivors who choose to file a restricted report to disclose information about an offense while declining an investigation.According to the memorandum from, the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, James Stewart, titled "Procedures to implement the 'Catch a Serial Offender' Program," the initiative is a law enforcement program with an investigation purpose and is intended for adult sexual assault victims who have filed a restricted report.Current service members, military service academy cadets and midshipmen as well as former service members and any of their adult dependents who filed a restricted report may the new CATCH program.Kristin Bruce, a SHARP program manager for Fort Knox, said the information would be used to identify repeat offenders."Congress has expressed a need for non-victim information [from] restricted reports to be searchable against other restricted and unrestricted sexual assault cases to detect potential sexual predators," she said. "This is a mechanism to provide information to [military criminal investigative organizations] to identify individuals suspected of multiple sexual assaults."
The program is designed to be as unobtrusive to the victim as possible said Bruce."The program is totally voluntary, and the victim may decline to participate in the CATCH program at any stage of the process - even after being informed that there is a possible match," Bruce said.According to Bruce, any [Sexual Assault Response Coordinator] can access the CATCH website to generate a one-time-use user name and password. The website is not CAC enabled and can be accessed through any personal computer, cell phone or tablet. The system generates a number for the survivor's case file and no personally identifiable information is required."It's designed to have no adverse consequences for the victim, said Bruce.
Bruce said the system will notify SARCs when possible matches are discovered. SARCs can then contact survivors and provide the option to initiate investigations - even years after the fact."When they learn that [a violator] has a history of sexual assault, that may change the way they feel and they may change their report to 'Unrestricted," said Bruce. "It may be another piece that helps in the recovery process, [when they realize] 'It's not just me. They have done this to others too'. "Bruce said her job is to inform survivors of their options and not to influence them to do anything."SHARP professionals are not here to persuade anyone to use the [CATCH] program, nor do we discourage them. We inform them about what the system, what it does and that it's there if and when they need it."
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