Crime Trackers

Jan 21, 2013 9:00 PM by Lupita Murillo

Rape cases up 30% in Pima County

TUCSON - Rape is called the most under reported violent crime in America.

It's the one violent crime that spiked nearly 30 percent here in Pima County last year.

News 4 Tucson's Lupita Murillo explores the reasons why in this Crime Trackers investigation.

Here at Tucson Medical Center they see about 300 adult rape victims a year, and it's in this room where medical forensics exams take place. It's the only one in Southern Arizona.

Sharon Welch is a forensic nurse examiner who handles victims of sexual assault. She takes care of their medical and psychological needs.

"We also make this as comfortable as we possibly can so that they are not retraumatized by our assesment and our future diagnosis," forensic nurse examiner Sharon Welch said.

This video of two Ohio teenage boys seen taking advantage of a 16-year-old drunk and unconscious girl at a party has gone viral. It's also made an impression.

"I think it hits home what (sic) actually takes place during some of these assaults," Welch said.

Sheronda Jordan is with the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault. They provide education and support.

"Many time it's really about power and control and targeting our most vulnerable people in the community," Jordan said.

In Pima County last year, there were 85 reports of sexual assualt. That's 19 more than the year before. Officials attribute the increase in part to certain rules that were taken off the books.

"The prison rape elimination act that encourages inmates of any type of detention facility to report incidents of sexual assaults," Pima County Sheriff Tom Peine said.

Jail officials received four reports last year. They think it's because of more public awareness. The City of Tucson had 43 more cases last year over 2011, but some of those cases weren't workable because the victims were unwilling to prosecutee or the reports were made long after the incident or there was no evidence.

So while there's been an increase in the number of reported rapes, authorities say it's just a fraction of what's really going on. As violent a crime as rape is, some people still don't want to talk about it.

For more information on sexual assault: http://sacasa.org/resourcesweblinks

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