It Happens Every Day: Inside the World of a Sex Crimes D.A.


According to crime statistics from the Department of Justice, 67 percent of sexual assault victims in 2008 were juveniles and an astonishing 93 percent of these victims knew their attackers. This is not news to veteran prosecutor Robin Sax. When she worked as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County specializing in sex crimes against children, she personally reviewed at least five new cases every day. In this county alone, there are some sixty prosecutors, all of whom ...

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According to crime statistics from the Department of Justice, 67 percent of sexual assault victims in 2008 were juveniles and an astonishing 93 percent of these victims knew their attackers. This is not news to veteran prosecutor Robin Sax. When she worked as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County specializing in sex crimes against children, she personally reviewed at least five new cases every day. In this county alone, there are some sixty prosecutors, all of whom deal with a similar caseload.
What really happens when law enforcement decides to prosecute a child sexual assault case? In this revealing, informative, and disturbing book, Sax shows readers how the real criminal justice system works, in terms you rarely hear about on the news. She candidly assesses what’s right about the system and what needs to be changed. Her hope is that, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our current judicial system, we’ll all be in a better position to protect our children. Dividing the work into two parts, she begins with "Behind the One-Way Mirror," which deals with the investigation portion of child sexual assault. She defines exactly what constitutes sexual assault and then presents the ingredients of what makes a case "fileable." She also explains why some cases never get filed. In the second part, "Behind the Counsel Table," Sax sheds light on the whole court process. She discusses a range of issues, including mandatory sentencing, plea bargains, unsupportive parents, using children’s testimony to prosecute the perpetrator, DNA evidence, the importance of corroboration, and the weaknesses of the jury system.
This gritty, in-depth discussion from an insider on the front lines of law enforcement’s campaign against child sexual assault makes an important contribution toward protecting society’s most vulnerable citizens from a crime that is reaching near-epidemic proportions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It Happens Every Day is a must have guidebook toward keeping our kids safe and, in the event that something horrible happens, it's an empowering map to understanding how the criminal justice system works - and doesn't work."
—Diane Dimond, crime and justice journalist and columnist

"As a long time child safety advocate I find Robin’s insider perspective of the criminal justice system educational and illustrative. She provides clarity where there was previously ambiguity. It Happens Every Day is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the inner workings of the criminal justice system."
—Marc Klaas, President KlaasKids Foundation

Publishers Weekly
In this informative but uneven examination of sex crimes against children, former L.A. County Dep. DA Sax traces the prosecution of this “social epidemic” from identifying the perpetrator to securing a conviction. The statistics Sax presents are sobering: for instance, 67% of reported sexual assault victims are children. Sax outlines her role as prosecutor and, most importantly, how this role is incorporated into the “team approach,” with information shared among police, prosecutor, medical professionals and the victim's advocate. She also challenges popular beliefs regarding sexual assault, especially parents' fears that the biggest danger comes from strangers: 93% of sexual assaults on children are committed by someone the victim knows. Though her passion for her work is undeniable, Sax is unable to maintain a steady tone, too often straying from astute legal analysis (differentiating the law's view of adult versus child sexual assault, for example) into personal views. But despite the often slipshod organization, the issues Sax raises with the criminal justice system's handling of these cases and the solutions she proposes require attention. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591027584
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Sax (Los Angeles, CA) is a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who specialized in prosecuting sex crimes against children. Sax is also the author of Predators and Child Molesters: What Every Parent Needs to Know to Keep Kids Safe and The Complete Idiots Guide to the Criminal Justice System. She is the Director of Child/Family Protection and Education for the Amber Alert Registry and is a prominent expert on sexual assault, family violence, domestic abuse, stalking, Internet safety, and the criminal justice system. Sax is also an instructor for the Los Angeles Police Department, Sheriff's Department, University of California at Los Angeles, and California State University, Los Angeles. She is a regular legal commentator on Today, Nancy Grace, Larry King Live, Fox News and has a weekly radio show, Justice Interrupted. Sax lives with her husband and three children in Los Angeles, California. For more about Robin Sax, visit

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Table of Contents

Author's Note 11

Foreword Mark Geragos Geragos, Mark 13

Introduction Making a Difference, One Case at a Time 17

Pt. I Behind the One-Way Mirror: Asking the Most Difficult Questions

Ch. 1 It Takes a Team 25

Ch. 2 The Fax Never Stops Buzzing: New Cases Every Day 47

Ch. 3 The Cases That Push the Envelope 65

Ch. 4 First Meetings and Impressions 83

Ch. 5 Helping Victims Remember What They Want to Forget 99

Ch. 6 Profile of a Predator 119

Pt. II Behind Counsel Table: Time for Court

Ch. 7 Corroborating a Child's Word: Other Evidence 139

Ch. 8 Kids on the Stand 153

Ch. 9 It Never Happened: Uncooperative Victims and Unsupportive Moms 173

Ch. 10 The Real-Life Effect of CSI 191

Ch. 11 Doing Time for the Crime: Sentencing and Plea Bargaining 207

Ch. 12 Registration and Prevention 227

Afterword: You Have Received Your Subpoena - Now What? 252

Appendix Where Can I Go for More Information? 257

Notes 271

Acknowledgments 275

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Informative and Interesting

    Robin Sax is an expert on sex crimes against children. She was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted offenders for the child sexual assault division. As an attorney and advocate for victims' rights, she appears to be as passionate about her work as she is knowledgeable.

    Sax says she wrote the book to illustrate what transpires when a district attorney prosecutes a child sexual assault case. Using a no-nonsense style of writing, Sax shows the reader how the criminal justice system works, or does not work, for its victims. She incorporates case studies as well as descriptions of crime scenes and victim statements to get her main point across: "child sexual assault has become a social epidemic."

    The book is divided into two parts, "Behind the One-Way Mirror" and "Behind Counsel Table." Sax shows ways in which cases are investigated, how children are treated through the process, and what happens when a perpetrator is convicted. The reader learns about the justice system without the sensationalism of TV court drama. Sax provides an extensive appendix, separates fact from fiction, and offers her expert opinions.

    Whether or not a victim pursues a criminal charge against a perpetrator, this is what Robin Sax knows for sure: sex crimes "will affect the victim's outlook on life, decisions, and relationships for the rest of his or her life."

    Any advocate, expert, and concerned citizen should read this book to help protect children and raise awareness because 93% of victims know their attackers.

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