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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Utah has high reported-rape rate, but most victims silent

Utah's reported-rape rate - already higher than the national average - drastically underestimates the actual incidence of rape, a new report indicates.
    In a 2007 phone survey of more than 1,800 women, nearly 13 percent said they had been forcibly raped in their lifetimes, according to a report released Wednesday by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. An additional 16 percent were sexually assaulted in other ways, such as child molestation, drug-facilitated rape and attempted rape.
   

Fewer than 12 percent of those incidents were reported to police, the survey indicates. However, in a separate survey of victims of crimes committed in 2006, 25 percent of rape victims said they made

a report to police - about the same rate of reporting among rape victims nationally.
    "Campaigns exist all over to get people aware of [rape] and try to increase reporting," said Christine Mitchell, director of research for the commission.
    Reluctance to report rape leaves a dark question mark over Utah's already high tally. According to the most recent federal crime report, Utah's rate of reported rapes was about 10 percent higher than the national average. Moreover, the sensitive nature of sex crimes may skew even anonymous surveys, said Katie McMinn, violence-prevention specialist for the state health department. [Mark Godsey]

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