Detective Ninette Toosbuy has been with the Los Angeles Police Department for more than 20 years. Toosbuy began working sex crimes investigations in 2002. With the exception of a few other investigative assignments, she has spent the past 13 years investigating sex crimes.
Sex crimes investigations is Toosbuy’s calling, her passion. She has dedicated the past 13 years to helping survivors of sex crimes regain their dignity, get closure, justice and vindication while ensuring that sexual predators were identified and stopped from targeting more victims.
Toosbuy was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. From the time she was six years old, Toosbuy knew she wanted to become a detective. As a little girl, she fantasized about solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice as she devoured Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels.
Toosbuy and her family moved to the United States when she was 14 years old. She went to high school in North San Diego County. Toosbuy graduated from UCLA in 1991 and joined the LAPD in 1994. While working as a patrol officer in Rampart Division, she attended California State University, San Bernardino pursuing a Master’s Degree. In 1999, Toosbuy graduated with an M.A. in National Security Studies.
In 2002, Toosbuy was officially promoted to the rank of Detective. Prior to that, however, she had worked various investigative assignments. Toosbuy was recruited to work sex crimes investigations shortly after becoming a detective. At the time, she did not know that this assignment would change her professional life forever. As a sex crimes detective, Toosbuy quickly learned that in order to be effective she needed to be more than just a cop. Keen investigative acumen, alone, was not enough. A truly effective detective must be a student of human nature. She must possess insight into human psychology and predictable human behavior in order to build trust and foster open communication with victims, family members, witnesses and suspects. A good detective knows that communication is her currency. In simple terms, detective work demands the ability to talk with and interview people of all ages, from all walks of life, in a manner that encourages unrestrained and truthful information sharing.
After spending years studying and conducting successful interviews and interrogations, Toosbuy became the LAPD’s subject matter expert on police interviews and interrogations techniques. She is currently the lead instructor on interview and interrogation techniques for the LAPD. Toosbuy is a graduate of the Interviews and Interrogations Institute (I&I Institute). The mission of the I&I Institute is to teach law enforcement how to conduct police interrogations that are ethical, legal and effective.
First - Report it to the police! If going to the police to report your case is too intimidating or scary, reach out to a counselor, teacher or physician whom you feel comfortable discussing your situation.
Second - If you’re reporting the crime immediately after it happened or within a few days, do not shower, brush your teeth, wash any part of your body, launder the clothes and undergarments you wore at the time of the incident.
Third - Talk to a crisis counselor and/or psychologist. Often times, law enforcement or the district attorney’s office will have a victim’s assistance program that can facilitate psychological counseling for sex crimes survivors, if your medical insurance does not cover it or you cannot afford it.
Fourth - Don’t confront your abuser. That is something law enforcement will consider at a later time.
Fifth - If your assailant and/or abuser is a family member, relative or a friend of your friends and family, tell only the most trusted people in your life that you are planning to file, or have filed, a police report. From an investigative standpoint, it is usually better if the suspect does not know the police are involved. If someone tips off the suspect, he may flee, hide, or destroy evidence and some investigative tools will become unavailable or ineffective. Oftentimes, in familial cases, some family members refuse to believe that their son, brother, husband, uncle, or cousin is capable of committing a sex crime. It is too painful for them to confront such reality. Denial becomes a coping mechanism: it allows them to avoid dealing with an unpleasant and unsettling truth. Some may then blame the victim/survivor and even help or protect the suspect by warning him or providing him with confidential information. This can compromise and impede an investigation and potentially preclude a successful prosecution.
Sadly, I have witnessed this occur too many times. I have seen it happen to sex crimes survivors of all ages, even one only five years old. In that case, the family simply couldn’t handle the truth: that the victim’s brother was a sexual predator. This particular family initially accused the police of “framing” the brother. After viewing the suspect’s video/audio recorded confession to the crime, they blamed the five year old victim instead of accepting reality. Such familial denial and victim blaming is extraordinarily painful and difficult for the sex crimes survivor, who has already been violated in such a profound way by the perpetrator. At a time when the family’s full support and love is needed the most, the survivor is, instead, emotionally abandoned by family members who are trying to avoid reality by blaming and ostracizing the victim and who may even protect the suspect. It can be devastating to the survivor and it is heartbreaking to witness. Tragically, this is an all too common phenomenon in the realm of sex crimes.
Therefore, if your assailant/abuser is a family member or someone close to your family, be very selective of who you choose to confide in.
SIXTH - Keep all potential evidence. Don’t delete or destroy evidence even if it is offensive or upsetting to you. Keep email, text messages, instant messages, voicemail messages, letters, notes, photos or anything else that may help prove your case.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A SEX CRIME
"Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted and every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the U.S."
Project Unbreakable is a photography project aiming to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Project Unbreakable has been featured in media outlets such as Glamour, TIME, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian.
Myths about Sex Crimes
WHAT IS A SEX CRIME?
Sex crimes range from the simple touching of a person on their breast, buttocks or genitals for sexual gratification, without their consent or against their will, to the most heinous offenses known to humankind, such as kidnapping for sexual purposes, sexual torture, rape, incest, manufacturing of child pornography, human trafficking for sex to child rape and child sexual molestation. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about sex crimes. Here are a few of the most common:
1. Myth: If it happened a long time ago, I can no longer file a police report and the police can’t do anything.
Fact: Many sex crime survivors don’t report until years later. In fact, this is quite common. Despite the delay, many such cases are successfully investigated and prosecuted. Each case has its own unique fact patterns and circumstances that ultimately determine whether a prosecution is viable.
2. Myth: If there is a delay in my reporting, no one will believe me.
Fact: A delay in reporting is not uncommon and does not reflect poorly upon the sex crime survivor’s credibility or the case. Law enforcement and the courts recognize that sex crime survivors often don’t report right away because they are afraid, ashamed, blame themselves and worry no one will believe them. In cases of child sexual abuse, the survivor often does not tell anyone about the abuse because they blame themselves, feel guilt, shame and worry that their parent(s) will get angry with them, especially if the abuser is a family member or relative.
3. Myth: If the suspect is my husband or boyfriend, it’s not rape.
Fact: Marriage or a pre-existing sexual relationship does not entitle someone to force sex on another person. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, both parties must consent to engaging in any—and every-- sexual act.
4. Myth: If I drank too much alcohol or used illicit drugs, the police won’t believe me or won’t investigate the case.
Fact: Intoxication of the victim, does not absolve the suspect of his crime. That said, if a victim was so intoxicated or high that (s)he does not remember whether consent was given or (s)he has limited recollection of the incident, it may be difficult to establish the elements of the crime, which must be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a victim, regardless of the circumstances, should still report the incident! Law enforcement will still thoroughly investigate the incident.
5. Myth: If I don’t remember anything that happened because I was drunk or under the influence of drugs, it cannot be proved that I was raped.
Fact: As discussed in #5, alcohol and drugs present real challenges to the case. Not because law enforcement does not believe you, but because the case becomes very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard in criminal cases. Yet, there are many investigative techniques that can enable law enforcement to prove a rape occurred. Additionally, law enforcement recognizes that many date and acquaintance rapists use alcohol and/or drugs to facilitate their crime.
6. Myth: If I am a boy or a man, I “can’t” be raped or the police won’t believe I was raped.
Fact: Boys and men are raped and sexually abused, as well. Tragically, they are even less likely to report the crime than girls and women. Boys and men fear that they will appear weak or “gay” if they admit to having been raped or sexually abused. Consequently, boys and men often don’t report. Once again, all victims of sex crimes should report the incident!
7. Myth: Rape is a forceful or violent act.
Fact: Violence or force does not need to be present for a rape to occur. Many rapes are committed through the use of emotional or psychological abuse or extortion. For example, the offender may tell his intended victim that he will harm her children if she does not have sex with him. Or, the offender may threaten to reveal a shameful secret to the victim’s family, such as an instance in which she stole money from someone or used drugs in the past.
8. Myth: Rape is mostly committed by strangers.
Fact: Most sex crime survivors know their assailants. The offender is often a relative, family member, a date, co-worker, caretaker, estranged boyfriend/lover, or a friend of a friend. Stranger rapes do happen. However, the majority of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows.
9. Myth: Sexual assault is a single, one time occurrence.
Fact: In the case of the stranger rape or date rape, the assault is usually a one-time occurrence. However, when the sexual predator knows and has continued access to his intended victim, the abuse and assaults can occur repeatedly, over a period of months or years. Such cases generally involve a perpetrator who is considered a trusted person in the victim’s life. For example, it can be a family member or relative. It may also be a caretaker or coach. Most sex crimes survivors know their assailant. As such, many survivors have been victimized on numerous occasions over a long period of time.
Many sex crimes survivors endure years of abuse committed by this supposedly trusted person in silence because they fear that no one will believe them or that disclosure of the abuse will tear apart the family.
10. Myth: Pedophiles, like rapists, are creepy men hiding in bushes who violently attack
their victims. Or, they are the guys who show up at the park leering at the kids while
maybe even exposing their genitals in public.
Fact: Most pedophiles act, look and live no differently than the rest of us. In fact, they are often times indistinguishably no different from any of us. They can be a neighbor, family member, relative, family friend, teacher, doctor, firefighter, nurse, police officer, sales person, banker, babysitter… It can be anyone. This fact is what makes child sexual predators so difficult to identify until they are reported. Lastly, the creepy guy masturbating in the park may not be a pedophile or a physical threat at all. This type of offender typically is turned on by people’s reactions to their obscene behavior. Disturbing to witness, yes. Criminal behavior, yes. However, such offenders are not necessarily a physical threat.
SEX CRIME PREVENTION
A Guide for Parents
Pedophiles and child predators choose their intended victims based on access and availability. For example, a pedophile in a position of trust---such as a coach or teacher--will pick the kid whose parent(s) are overwhelmed with life: working long hours, multiple jobs, or just preoccupied by other stress in their lives. The predator will evaluate which kid in the class or on the team feels emotionally neglected at home. Once the predator perceives that a child is getting insufficient attention at home, he (or she) will target that child by satisfying needs that aren’t being met at home, such as the child’s need for love, support and attention. This process is called grooming. When the predator has cultivated a bond and trust with the targeted child, (s)he will gradually introduce the child victim to sex acts. It may start simply with holding hands or cuddling. If the child does not balk at such seemingly non-sexual physical affection, the predator will generally escalate to touching of genitals with the objective of ultimately making the child grow accustomed to and comfortable with sex acts. The predator may introduce the child to pornographic materials. The predator will tell the kid that it is their special secret.
A clever predator will also groom the parent(s) by offering to get the child to school, or drop the child off at home after school or practice, or to help the child with homework. With more and more American parents feeling overwhelmed by demanding working hours, traffic or coping as a single parent, accepting help from a “caring” adult can be seductive. Predators know this. Moreover, the predator also knows that if the kid’s parent(s) accepts him/her, it will become all the more difficult for the child to tell his/her parents about the sexual abuse.
The undetected pedophile is a highly manipulative predator.
To reduce your child’s odds of becoming an intended victim of a sex crime, stay actively involved in all aspects of your child’s life. Make sure that the various caretakers in your child’s life--such as teachers, coaches, tutors, and babysitters--know you’re an involved parent. Don’t be the parent who chronically picks up your child late from school, daycare or practice. Attend your kid’s sports practices/games or other extracurricular activities as much as you can. Keep your child engaged. Make family activities a part of your life. It does not have to be extravagant activities. Simply playing board games, cooking, working on the house, or reading together can give children a sense of love and belonging. An emotionally secure and well-adjusted child is a much less promising target to the child predator, for there is no emotional vulnerability to exploit. A child who feels secure, loved by a fully involved parent is, in a very real sense, inoculated from the advances of a sexual predator. Yes, it is demanding and lots of work especially when you’re an exhausted working parent. But, by taking this approach, not only will a parent better protect their child from the manipulative child predator, but foster a healthy child-parent relationship in the process, which will pay enormous dividends to both parent and child down the years.
When your child grows into teenage-hood, many of the same dangers remain. However, new hazards can emerge as your child is given greater freedom and spends unsupervised time with friends. Your teenager must navigate the dangers and temptations that can surface at parties, the mall and at the homes of others. Additionally, your teenager is likely to be offered alcohol and drugs by his/her peers, often under great social pressures. These factors make teenagers especially susceptible to predators. Many teenagers feel awkward and insecure as puberty sets in. Additionally, during the teenage years communication between child and parent frequently breaks down. The teenager often feels misunderstood, alienated and perhaps even unloved by their family. This state of mind can create an ideal vulnerability for the predator to exploit by giving his/her teenage target validation, vindication, attention and empathy. The normal challenges of the teenage years can create a perfect storm of emotional turbulence, providing the predator an ideal environment in which to groom a victim.
This is why it is so critically important for parents of teenagers to stay involved, to keep communications open, and most difficult of all – be prepared to give much needed guidance and support without judgment. Fear of judgment deters all people, and teenagers especially, from confiding in others, particularly family. If you want your teenager to confide in you, you must consistently communicate your unconditional love and support. Let them know they can talk about any problem, about anything happening in their lives. Let them know you will never turn your back on them, no matter what mistakes they might make. As difficult as it is for any parent to listen to their teenage child share experiences that may involve sex or alcohol, it is infinitely better to know what’s going on in your teenage child’s life than to remain in the dark. If you know what’s going on with your teenager, you can guide, advise, prevent and protect your child from harm.
A Guide on Electronics
If your child or teenager has a smart phone (or any internet access via a computer or an online gaming console such a Wii), do not let them have it at night in their bedroom. It is at night, when everyone has gone to sleep that your nocturnal teenager will have the opportunity to roam the vast--and often dangerous--world of social networking. Predators know to find teenagers on these sites. While you’re sleeping, your teenager may be having text and photo exchanges with strange men from all around the country. These predators know how to groom your teenager by making him/her feel special, beautiful and smart.
I have investigated countless incidents in which the online predator convinced a teenager to provide her home address and arranged a meeting when the parents were not at home. These were not unintelligent teenagers. These were not ill behaved teenagers. They were just teenagers…inexperienced, sometimes naïve, and often overconfident of their own sophistication.
As parents, we must recognize that teenagers are going through a rough transition from childhood into adulthood. Their emotional maturity has not caught up to their physical growth. As puberty kicks in, hormonal changes cause emotional turbulence for many kids. Teenagers want to challenge the world they know. They are “bored” with their own world. All of this is very normal and common. However, it is this phenomenon that makes teenagers potentially easy targets for sexual predators.
Checking your cellular phone bill or your child’s text messages on their phone will not necessarily provide an accurate picture of your child’s phone/online activities. Kids and teens know to use third party apps that fly under the parental radar. The use of these apps won’t show up on your phone bill. Apps like KIK, Tango, Whisper, Bubblews, Vine, Medium, Tinder, We Heard It, WeChat, Snapchat, Shots, Secret and Ameego are sites where many teens and adults congregate, often in search of a quick sexual encounter. Regrettably, many parents don’t know the existence of these sites and do not know how to look for them on their child’s phone. The child usually “hides” the app thumbnail within an innocuous thumbnail folder that is easily overlooked by the parent who does not know what to look for.
In this fast changing world, keep in mind that the apps I listed off are just the apps of today. Who knows what other apps will surface next month or next year? As a parent, you must strive to keep up with your child’s ever changing cyber world.
Monitoring your child’s or teenager’s social network site such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram may not provide you an accurate picture of your child’s online social life activities. Many parents tell me that they regularly monitor their kid’s facebook page and there isn’t a lot going on. Bear in mind that your child may have a “ghost’ account/profile. Knowing that you are monitoring them, your child may set up a secondary profile under a different name that only their friends know. Oftentimes, parents have no idea that their child has this “ghost” site that is totally unsupervised.
A guide for men and women:
Most adult sex crimes survivors are sexually assaulted by someone they know. A high risk life style increases your chances of being raped or assaulted. As you go through the list of high risk behaviors, you’ll notice that a recurring theme is a victim becoming intoxicated, though either alcohol or drugs, while they are surrounded by people who are not trustworthy friends or who are relative strangers.
With the prevalence of social networking and online dating, the characterization of friendship and relationship has been watered down to something hollow. The definition of friendship and relationship needs to be recognized as recurring personal contacts and interactions that have taken place over a significant period of time. The contacts must be substantive where the involved parties are sharing significant aspects of their lives with each other. Historically, this is what distinguished friends from acquaintances.
In today’s world, some people erroneously define a Facebook or Instagram “friend” as a friend. For example, I investigated a case in which a woman was raped by a person she called her “boyfriend”. During my interview with her, she disclosed that the night of the rape was her first time meeting her boyfriend in person. The woman genuinely believed the suspect was her boyfriend simply because they had maintained online exchanges via FB for over a year. Writing to another person back and forth without seeing them in person is not a friend; that is a pen pal!
What constitutes high risk?
1) Meeting someone for the first time and going to their home or having them come to your home. As mentioned, “knowing” someone online via
social networking does not constitute knowing that person and does not constitute having a relationship.
2) Becoming impaired from alcohol consumption or narcotics use in the company of someone you know only superficially, or when you are
around people you don’t know at all, or do not know very well. In other words, a party or bar. If you are planning on getting drunk or high, make sure you are with true friends, people who really care enough about you to ensure nothing will happen to you. Having a designated sober person with you is a good idea.
3) Accepting drinks from strangers or someone you don’t know well. Again, meeting someone online and messaging for many months or even
years, does not constitute knowing someone.
4) Going somewhere secluded or private with someone you don’t know well. Yet again, online “relationships” don’t qualify as knowing someone.
LINKS AND RESOURCES
If you are a survivor of a sex crime, or you know someone who is, here are some links to help you get assistance and support. There are hundreds of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) centers throughout the United States, as well as other sexual assault survivor organizations, all dedicated to help sex crime survivors. If neither of these links identifies a local organization or center, try an Internet search for your town or city.
Some of these links are also excellent educational resources for survivors, as well as parents, family members, educators, law enforcement, medical professionals or anyone who wants to obtain greater understanding of the impact of sex crimes and child sexual abuse on the survivors, their families and society as a whole. The pervasiveness of child sexual abuse is a topic not sufficiently addressed in the United States. The statistics vary significantly depending on who is collecting the data. It is an exceedingly difficult area to study because of enormous under reporting by children. Based on the thousands of cases I’ve investigated, and the many adults I’ve met outside of my job who have shared, in confidence, their own instances of abuse, I believe the numbers are far greater than any of those presented in the various published statistical studies.
- The Center for Assault Treatment Services (C⋅A⋅T⋅S) of Dignity Health - Northridge Hospital Medical Center is a member of the 24-hour/7-day per-week Sexual Assault
Response Team (SART) program in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys that provides support for sexually and domestically abused women and children.
- 911 rape provides: Support for sexual assault victims, A safe and anonymous way to learn how to get help after a sexual assault, Information and resources to educate
the public about rape and sexual assault, Special sections for college students and teens, Information about forensic evidence in sexual assault cases
- Use this tool to find help near you. This list is made up of independent sexual assault service providers, including National Sexual Assault Hotline affiliate organizations
and other local providers. Staff at these programs are dedicated to helping survivors in your area.
- Use the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services to locate nonemergency crime victim services provided by not-for-profit programs and public agencies.
- MaleSurvivor provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma and all their partners in recovery by building communities of Hope, Healing, & Support.
- The RTC provides free, expert, comprehensive, and compassionate care for sexual assault victims – children and adults – 24 hours a day, including emergency medical
treatment and forensic services; crisis counseling and longer-term psychotherapy; advocacy; accompaniment during police reporting, medical care, and court proceedings;
information about rights and options to help victims make informed choices; and many other support services. Over 50,000 victims and their families have received these
- SANE-SART Online + Clinical delivers online and on-site interactive learning for RNs interested in becoming a SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner). The program is
also appropriate for current SANEs, MDs, SAFEs and SAMFEs. Learners practice and gain experience conducting a medical forensic exam and testifying at trial.
- Adults sexually victimized as children have described their bodies as crime scenes, the evidence of victimization, indelibly imprinted. The memories of the abuse, the
mechanisms of coping which developed as a result, and the lifelong consequences of choices made during adulthood, to deal with their suffering, are always there as
a reminder of the victimization. Please join us in our efforts to prevent child sexual abuse and rape.
- We provide a variety of resources to assist you in your work to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Follow up-to-date news postings, check out our projects, download
publications, or find an organization near you at the links below. You can also submit a request for additional information, training, and support.
- The Stop Violence Against Women website (STOPVAW), a project of The Advocates for Human Rights, is a forum for information, advocacy and change in the promotion
of women's human rights around the world.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has initiated two projects to identify, develop and test the best methods for collecting self-report data on rape and sexual assault.
- Reporting on child sexual abuse (CSA) presents a number of challenges. The victims—children from birth to 17 years of age—are often traumatized by the experience
and afraid to come forward. CSA may cause a wide variety of emotional and behavioral problems that make it difficult even for adult survivors to discuss their victimization because of the trauma, shame, and grief associated with the crime. Reporters should be aware of these issues and understand that child victims’ accounts may be less cohesive and polished than those of adults. Despite such challenges, victims’ perspectives should be included in stories about CSA, so that the public learns about the complex issues involved and the important impact of these crimes on society.
- First established in 2005 as the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR), NSOPW was renamed by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 in
honor of 22-year-old college student Dru Sjodin of Grand Forks, North Dakota, a young woman who was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender who was registered
NSOPW is the only U.S. government Website that links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries from one national search site. Parents, employers, and other concerned residents can utilize the website’s search tool to identify location information on sex offenders residing, working, and attending school not only in their own neighborhoods but in other nearby states and communities. In addition, the Website provides visitors with information about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves and loved ones from potential victimization.
Based on her specialized knowledge and experience, Toosbuy provides expert consulting and training on sex crime investigative procedures, including, but not limited to victim/survivor psychology; survivor interviewing; child interviewing; sex crime prevention; sex offender profiling; suspect interrogations; and sex crime scene management.
As noted above, Toosbuy is a subject matter expert on interviews and interrogations. Currently, she is the lead instructor for interviews and interrogations for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Toosbuy is also an instructor for the Interview and Interrogation Institute (I & I Institute), which teaches law enforcement throughout the United States procedures, methods and techniques to conduct ethical, legal, and effective police interviews and interrogations, which are critical to the successful prosecution of sex offenders.
If you would like Detective Toosbuy to provide expert consultation, instruction or to appear as a guest speaker regarding sex crimes investigations or police interrogations, please submit a request below.