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2021 Strangulation Series

2021 Strangulation Series
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The Sexualization of Strangulation: Felony or Fetish?

Why didn’t she say no or fight back? Does that mean she consented? Why didn’t she mention the asphyxiation? How do we prove it wasn’t rough sex? Where should investigators look for digital evidence? All these questions and more will be answered in this two-part session given by prosecutors, forensic nurses, law enforcement, survivors, and leaders in the Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadochism and Masochism (BDSM) community.

Asphyxiation is a weapon used by domestic abusers, rapists, killers, pornographers, and traffickers. The use of asphyxiation (including strangulation, suffocation, and aquatic violence) in sexual crimes adds a layer of degradation for a victim and a film of confusion for investigators and prosecutors.

The presence of violence in pornography has contributed to the normalization of these dangerous acts, and suspects have learned to escape punishment and just call it rough sex. This session will include training from the BDSM & kink community, as well as identifying opportunities for law enforcement to better determine truth from fiction. Using real case examples, this session will provide ways to navigate these cases, prevent this defense, and discuss solutions to improve how we respond to these crimes. Through consultation, creativity, and community partnership, these perpetrators can be caught and successfully prosecuted.

From the most typical sexual assault or strangulation case to the most complex human trafficking trial and homicide case, this two-day session will change how the system identifies and filters the evidence so that attendees will be prepared to take on the most dangerous offenders in our society.

The 2021 Strangulation Series is hosted by Kelsey McKay and RESPOND Against Violence.


Forensic Center of Excellence

The Forensic Center of Excellence (TFC) is a community-based victim service center that launched in 2019 in Houston, Texas.  Since its inception, TFC has rapidly expanded and now operates in eleven counties offering a multitude of services.  TFC provides medical forensic exams 24 hours a day for victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sex and labor trafficking, and child and elder abuse.  In June 2020, TFC introduced an Adult Forensic Interviewing program for adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.  TFC also offers advocacy, counseling, and legal advocacy services for its victims. 

Allison Franklin

Allison Franklin is the Director of the CARES program at SAFE Alliance and is a nationally recognized survivor leader, subject matter expert, and accomplished speaker who addresses sex trafficking and sexual exploitation with the comorbidity of drug abuse, mental health issues, and intersections with the criminal justice system. At SAFE, Ms. Franklin provides comprehensive services for trafficked youth ages 12 to 24, such as a drop-in center and 24/7 crisis response for law enforcement and hospitals.  Ms. Franklin has extensive experience advocating for survivors with both a top-down and bottom up approach, working at national, state and local levels with numerous stakeholders, to find innovative solutions to fight human traffickingAdditionally, she provides technical assistance and trains law enforcement, prosecutors, healthcare professionals and human trafficking courts across the US.  

Scott Hampton

Scott Hampton has been working with batterers, sex offenders, victims, and child witnesses for 30 years. Dr. Hampton is the director of Ending the Violence, a Dover, NH-based organization that provides educational classes to perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. He is also the project coordinator for Strafford County’s Supervised Visitation Center. Dr. Hampton writes and speaks frequently on issues related to interpersonal violence. He spends much of his time consulting with other professionals on the handling of domestic and sexual violence cases, conducting workshops, and testifying in court as an expert witness in interpersonal violence-related cases. Dr. Hampton is a past president of the National Supervised Visitation Network, a peer reviewer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and has been serving on New Hampshire’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee since its inception in the late 1990s. 

Kelsey McKay

Kelsey McKay is the President of RESPOND Against Violence and McKay Training & Consulting, LLC. Ms. McKay trains and consults nationally to strengthen how communities collaborate, investigate, and prosecute strangulation, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence cases. She develops experts to testify and trains on the implementation of a strangulation supplement and community collaboration.  

Joseph Scaramucci

Joseph Scaramucci is a detective with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and investigates crimes against persons. Since initiating investigations in human trafficking in 2014, Det. Scaramucci has participated in John Suppression events, arresting over 450 sex buyers. He has conducted sting operations resulting in the arrest of approximately 125 individuals for trafficking and related offenses, which lead to the recovery of approximately 215 trafficking victims and seizure of more than $300,000 in currency and assets. Det. Scaramucci has worked both state and federal investigation as a Task Force officer with H.S.I., and has led and trained numerous agencies throughout the U.S. on how to conduct operations. He is a consultant for Polaris, Collective Liberty, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and trains the Mongolian Federal Police and Prosecutor’s Offices, providing technical support for their human trafficking operations and investigations. 

Myra Strand

Myra Strand is the chief servant leader of Strand2 Squared, where she provides training and education in person and online.  Ms. Strand also provides consultation and agency support in the areas of trauma and response. Last year, Strand2Squared provided educational services to over 30,000 professionals. Ms. Strand began working with people who live with trauma in 1995.  She has experience working with youth who have complex trauma and/or serious mental illness, people with developmental disabilities, youth in competing war zones, offenders, death notification, and victims of all crime types. Ms. Strand places a special emphasis on professional health as it relates to organizational trauma.  She was previously a faculty member at Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College where she taught issues of violence, sexuality, and applied intersectionality for over a decade.  Ms. Strand has also taught social justice classes in the Detention Center, working with men on issues of violence and healing. 

Paul Thorns

Paul Thorns is a 20-year Army veteran with a background in military intelligence who has been actively engaged in the BDSM/Fetish Community since first getting involved in 1998.  Mr. Thorns has served on the board of directors for Celebration of Power, was a Charter Member and educational/programming Chairperson for the National Leather Association- Colorado and a Charter Mentor for The Colorado Mentors Program. Mr. Thorns is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Marquis Lifestyle Center, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to developing communities, law enforcement teams, healthcare professionals, first responders and victims’ advocates through educational relationship building. Mr. Thorns has presented a variety of classes to the kink/BDSM community for over 13 years that vary from skills development, core philosophies, relationship dynamics, communication and one-on-one mentorship, including a kink presentation to mental health providers as well as classes for victims’ advocates.  

Andrea Zaferes

Andrea Zaferes is a medicolegal death investigator who specializes in the handling of aquatic cases from the scene to the courtroom. Ms. Zaferes trains law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, domestic violence workers, medical personnel, and jurisprudence members to recognize, document, and investigate aquatic homicide, death, assault, and abuse cases. She assists in analyzing and building such cases in the U.S. and abroad and has developed standards for their investigation.