Police see more sex assault reports

By Aaron Wiens

Reports of criminal sexual assault is on the rise in the DeKalb community.

Last year, 48 criminal sexual assaults were reported to DeKalb police, 28 more than in 2003.

The large increase reported to police may be the result of several different causes.

Recently, the police have witnessed a new willingness of victims to report the attack.

“The biggest change is the willingness of the victim to report the crime,” DeKalb Police Lt. Jim Kayes said. “Eighty-six percent of sexual assaults committed against college students are not reported [to police].”

Although a new law, the No Means Now Law, was signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2003, it has not had an effect on the number of sexual assaults reported, Kayes said.

The law, which makes post penetration rape illegal and does not require a victim to resist in order to accuse someone, does not work as effectively as the education of incoming students about sexual assault, Kayes said.

“If you are a female and have been drinking, you better make sure that someone is looking out for you,” Kayes said. “There is a belief among males that any woman is fair game, even if she is passed out.”

Safe Passage, a sexual assault shelter that provides legal advocacy, is trying to get the preventive word out.

“Only a certain percentage of people who get raped think it is rape,” said Donna Moulton, residential director of Safe Passage. “[Violent] sex is a long accepted practice and in addition people do not know what the definition of rape is.”

Safe Passage offers a free, 24-hour hotline and will help provide support for sexual assault victims. The hotline number is 756-5228.

Being convicted of a sexual assault carries with it penalties other than just the prison time.

A sexual assault is a Class 1 felony that carries a four to 15-year sentence and a $25,000 fine, Kayes said.

“It is the kiss of death for a college kid,” he said. “You will never get a decent job after that.”

Sometimes the increase can be the result of further educating potential victims.

“If I give a lecture the numbers may spike for a while,” said Joel Milner, director of the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

April is sexual assault awareness month, which involves getting the word out about sexual assault and informing people about the laws and how they work.