Rape Rising In Maine: Lawyers And Activists Deliberate Sexual Misconduct Growth

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Rape Rising In Maine: Lawyers And Activists Deliberate Sexual Misconduct Growth

According to recent news reports, while overall crime rates in Maine have dropped significantly over the past few years, sexual misconduct and specifically  rape cases in the state are on the rise. there were 448 rapes reported in 2017, a 17% increase from the 383 cases from the previous year. These figures reflect the highest rate of sexual assault cases reported to the FBI since these numbers were readily available in 1994 and the first time they surpassed four hundred.

Rape cases charged or closed by other means, known as clearance rates, have remained steady during this  time period. Between 2016 and 2017, these figures came in at 36.8% and 35.2% respectively. Law enforcement also reports that 94% are credible enough to pursue charges against an alleged assailant.

The Changes in the Law

The majority of sexual assault cases are perpetrated against women which has  But this has led to a stigma of sorts when it comes to rape charges reported by men.  In response to this bias, the government has redefined the definition of rape to reflect a more modern version of this offense. Before 2013, the FBI referred to “forcible rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” which  excluded men as victims.

The current FBI definition removes the term “forcible” and encompasses a more gender-neutral approach to this crime. Today the charge includes the penetration of another person by an object or body part without the consent of the victim. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice revised their rape charges to include, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Both of these updates recognize that rape with is equally traumatic to a victim regardless of their gender. The DOJ also addressed instances where the victim is unable to give consent due to:

  • The ingestion of drugs and/or alcohol
  • The presence of a temporary or permanent physical and/or mental impairment including disabilities
  • An inability to give said consent due to age

National And Global Discussions

Movements like #MeToo have sparked a national discussion on these topics and many believe this has led to the rise in reported rape and sexual assault cases in this country and around the world. With more victims coming forward, others are feeling more empowered to share  their accounts of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

A Presidential Proclamation

In March of 2018, President Donald Trump proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. In an accompanying statement to the press, the President offered, “We remain steadfast in our efforts to stop crimes of sexual violence, provide care for victims, enforce the law, prosecute offenders and raise awareness about the many forms of sexual assault.”

The NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) responded with a request for supporters to don the color of teal in association with these efforts. NSVRC also proclaimed April 3rd as their “Day of Action” as a way to raise awareness and show solidarity among victims and survivors. Hoping to continue this conversation, the “Embrace Your Voice” campaign was also launched in order to “promote safety, respect and equality toward ending sexual violence.”

A Report From NSVRC

In support of these movements, the NSVRC published statistics to raise awareness and prevent future cases of sexual violence.  According to their figures, while more victims are coming forward, the numbers still speak to these offenses:

  • One in three women will experience some form of sexual violence during her lifetime with one in five experiencing rape;
  • Men experience rape at a one in seventy-four rate with one in six victimized of some form of sexual violence;
  • Almost two-thirds or 63% of sexual assaults over all are never reported to authorities while 90% of sexual assaults on college campuses are not reported to the police;
  • Over half of women are raped by their partners and more than 40% are raped by an acquaintance;
  • In 80% of rape cases, the victim knew her or his assailant;
  • Victims suffer over $120,000 in costs as the result of rape over the course of their lifetimes;
  • Rape costs the United States over $125 billion dollars annually; and
  • In 8% of rape cases, the assault occurs at the workplace.

There is a hotline available to victims of sexual assault – (800) 656-HOPE (or 4673)- which has resulted in   a 57% spike in calls alleging sexual assault or rape.

These revelations are pushing lawmakers to reconsider the statute of limitations in cases of rape and other sexual misconduct allegations. Currently in the state of Maine, unless the victim was under the age of sixteen at the time of the offense, the statute of limitations expires after three to eight years depending upon the severity of the potential charges.

A Qualified Attorney

When you’re in need of professional legal advice and representation, contact us online today. To reach our office directly, please call (207) 871-7770 for a free consultation. Whether you’ve been the victim of sexual assault or have been falsely accused of a crime, we’re here to protect your rights and provide you with the best possible legal representation.

With over forty years of criminal defense experience in Maine, Massachusetts and New York, the Law Office of Richard S. Berne is uniquely qualified to effectively represent both plaintiffs and defendants in  a wide range of state and federal matters.