News - Forensics Conference Mixes Science With Compassion Addressing Sexual Assault

Forensics Conference Mixes Science With Compassion Addressing Sexual Assault

By Carla Morris

Forensics-DunkleyStudents, professors and criminal justice professionals gathered on the Greenville University campus April 5-6 to examine the tough subject of sexual assault.

The event—G.U.’s second annual Forensics Conference—mixed hard science and psychology with expertise from authorities in various fields including federal investigation, forensics pathology and victim advocacy.

(At left, Greenville University's Associate Professor of Biology Eugene Dunkley addresses attendees at G.U.'s Forensics Conference)      

Presenter Debbie Smith, rape victim and namesake of the Debbie Smith Act, shared a personal account that showed the vital role professional investigators and lab technicians play in solving assault cases like hers.

“As a victim, I want it all to be available to me, and I want it to be top notch, and I want them to be at their very best to ensure justice is done.”

Smith’s powerful personal account of physical and emotional violation followed by a determined team in pursuit of her attacker shed light on the critical role of proper evidence collection and DNA.

In a surprising contradiction to her natural preference to shun the spotlight, she has since taken a very public role helping other rape victims.

The Criticality of DNA: Motivation for Life’s Work

“Because of DNA, I’m living where I never wanted to live, doing what I never wanted to do, meeting people that I never wanted to meet, in places that I never wanted to go and talking about a subject that I, don’t only not want to talk about, but most people don’t want to hear,” she said. “How can it be that I can be so enthusiastic about science that I don’t understand?”

Smith’s testimony gave a face and personal experience to the science and psychology covered in depth by other presenters. Among them, forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Cumberland addressed evidence collection; violent crime analyst and criminal profiler Peter Smerick detailed rapist profiles; and trauma experts Russell and Myra Strand spoke about caring response to traumatized victims.

Local Agencies BenefitForensics-Conference-Sign

The approximately 175 attendees at the conference included members of state and local police departments, county sheriffs’ departments, the Illinois State Police Academy, states attorney offices, the Bond County Coroner and social work agencies. 

The 2019 Forensics Conference at Greenville University was made possible by funding from these generous sponsors:

Special Agent Sponsors

Pepsi MidAmerica
Premier Pathology Services, LLC

Investigator Sponsors

Bond County Health Department
Effingham OB/GYN Associates, LLC
HSHS Holy Family Hospital
Kaskaskia College
Korte Company

Friends of Forensics Sponsors

Bond County Sheriff’s Office – Jim Leitschuh
Community Resource Center
Greenville Illinois Police Department
Jubilee House Outreach
Serene Renewal – Medical Spa & Women’s Wellness

Learn More

G.U.’s Forensics Conference Returns in April Following 2018 Success 0
Forensics Conference Exceeds Expectations, Informs and Inspires 
Forensics Minor at Greenville University
Criminal Justice Major at Greenville University

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Photo of Eugene Dunkley: Genesis Martinez

This story was published on April 24, 2019

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