Criminal cases are always serious, but cases in which the defendant is accused of a sex offense are often more volatile and delicate than others. One reason for this is that many defendants are simply too devastated or embarrassed about the accusation to offer much assistance in their own defense. Another is the challenge of overcoming the presumption of guilt that so many people tend to attach to crimes such as sexual assault or possession of child pornography.

Take, for example, a developing story that local media outlets covered this week. It happened on Tuesday, when Atlantic City police arrested a 32-year-old city resident in connection with an alleged sexual assault.

According to news reports, officers responding to the assault call arrived at South Carolina Avenue and the beach about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday morning. The alleged victim, a 24-year-old woman from Essex County, then told officers that the suspect held her down on the beach and sexually assaulted her. Officers located the alleged crime scene on the beach near Tennessee Avenue; the alleged victim was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center where she was treated and released.

Later that same day, police arrested the 32-year-old male suspect; he remains in custody with bail set at $150,000.

What’s notably missing from the media accounts is any information about how police were able to identify and apprehend the suspect so soon after the crime allegedly occurred. In our experience with previous cases, prompt arrests usually mean the alleged attacker and victim knew each other. If that turns out to be the case here, it raises the possibility that the victim may have had some other motive for making the accusation. In other words, the accusation that the defendant committed a sexual assault may be completely false.

Source: NBC40 News, “One arrested after sexual assault on Atlantic City beach,” Patrick Carragher, July 17, 2012