News & Announcements

Criminology Research Center Awarded Federal and State Grants to Address Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking

The Criminology Research Center (CRC) has received several new grants to address sexual assault and human trafficking in the Greater Cleveland region. Dr. Rachel Lovell, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Director of the Criminology Research Center at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Public Affairs and Education is an applied criminologist and methodologist whose research focuses on gender-based violence and victimization, particularly sexual assault, human trafficking, and intimate partner violence. She will serve as the primary investigator for both projects. 

Recent funding provided by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has allowed CRC’s research team to partner with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to develop and evaluate a comprehensive, evidence-based, LGBTQIA+ youth-focused human trafficking screener and toolkit for providers and advocates. This partnership will build the capacity of local service providers to better identify and connect youth to much-needed services.

A separate grant provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative will allow Criminology Research Center’s Dr. Rachel Lovell to partner with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s Sexual Assault Kit Task Force on an action research project to evaluate the Task Force’s effort to leverage forensic data from sexual assault kits to help identify, investigate, and prosecute sexual offenders. The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force is a multidisciplinary group of prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, forensic scientists, and other criminal justice partners dedicated to the testing, investigation, and prosecution of sexual assault cases arising from previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Cuyahoga County. Through her research, Dr. Lovell aims to inform and reform current policy and practice in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases in Cuyahoga County.

Since 2015, Dr. Lovell has been the Principal Investigator on several large action research projects in collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office and the Akron Police Department, with funding provided by the Department of Justice's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. As an extension of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, she serves as the lead researcher on the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office's Lawfully "Owed" DNA Initiative. Dr. Lovell is also the Principal Investigator on a National Institute of Justice grant to employ machine learning technology to analyze the narratives of thousands of sexual assault police reports for "signaling" language regarding a victim's credibility. She is an established scholar who has been awarded over $5.5 million in external funding over the last nine years and has published several dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her research has been featured in The Atlantic, Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and Pro Publica.