cover image Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape

Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape

Linda A. Fairstein. William Morrow & Company, $23 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-688-06715-1

Since 1976, as chief of New York City's Sex Crime Prosecution Unit, Fairstein has not only prosecuted rapists mercilessly but helped to ``remove the veil of secrecy'' from the crime of rape. This she defines as ``a crime of violence with sex as the weapon,'' now extended to include ``date and acquaintance rape.'' To encourage formerly stigmatized rape victims to come forward, the author focuses on episodes of a serial ``Midtown Rapist'' and the arduous, skillful tracking that led to his trial and long prison sentence. She notes an improved rate of convictions, due in part to a Special Victims squad, DNA identification and changes in laws governing rape cases that also reflect greater sensitivity toward victims. These include outlawing evidence based on a victim's past sexual activity, mandating secret grand jury hearings without the presence of the defendant and allowing a rape victim to testify without corroboration. The reader will find this an absorbing memoir despite its occasional grimness. Major ad/promo; first serial to Glamour and Cosmopolitan. (Sept.)