Fresno Sees Rise in Sexual Assaults

September 16, 2009 7:16:22 PM PDT
The numbers reveal an alarming trend. Fresno Police say so far this year 59 people have reported being sexually assaulted. That's 30% more rapes than in all of 2008. And investigators say in more than 80% of these traumatic crimes, the attacker knows the victim. Priscilla Meza with Resource Center for Survivors of Sexual Assault said, "It was someone they trusted, believed to be safe and in many cases loved very much."The department is joining forces with the Resource Center for Survivors of Sexual Assault or RCS. With the help of a quarter of a million dollar grant, the department is dedicating one detective to Susan McAllister, the newly appointed victim's crime advocate. Both will work exclusively with rape victims. Chief Dyer said, "They will specialize in those cases in which alcohol and drug intoxication has complicated the investigation or the prosecution of the case."

McAllister will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accompany sexual assault victims to medical exams to collect important evidence and even to court. Her message? Report sexual crimes immediately. "We only have a short amount of time that evidence is collectable or disposable at some point in time."

RCS is also targeting young people with a high school violence intervention program. Priscilla Meza with RSC said, "This innovative program targets young men and women ages 14 to 18, their parents and school site staff to stand up and speak against sexual violence."

Susan McAllister's salary will be paid by RCS. She is expected to start the job in a couple of weeks. As for what's behind this rise in rapes, the Chief can't say for sure and can only speculate that when times are tough more people turn to drugs and alcohol, which can then lead to more crime and domestic violence.

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