Aren’t rape victims part of the public:Published 5:06pm Thursday, May 2, 2013
To the editor:
April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Many victim support groups nationwide conducted programs. According to the National Sexual Violence Center (NSVC.org), the purpose is to engage the public in discussion to raise awareness and educate the public about domestic and sexual violence.
Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence points out that one of every six American women has been the victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.
Rape is not an impulsive act.
Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence.
Generally, between 64 percent and 96 percent of all rapes are never reported to authorities. Sexual assault victims are often reluctant to come forward.
Danny Inman of Domestic Assault Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS) told the Rotary Club in December of 2010 that sexual assault is the number-one under-reported crime in the country.
Only 5 percent of the victims tell police, and 15 of 16 perpetrators walk away free.
According to Inman, statistically, 94 percent of assault victims are telling the truth, but it is hard to get a conviction.
Michigan State Police Incident Crime Report (MICR) shows Cass County had 20 CSC offenses reported in 2011 with three arrests.
In 2010, Cass County reports 22 CSC crimes with one arrest.
In 2009 and 2008, combined, the MICR list 51 reported first-degree CSC crimes with two arrests.
If 94 percent of the rape victims are telling the truth and only 5 percent of rapes are reported, then, statistically, rape in Cass County is epidemic.
If the statistic is right, the number of violent rapes in Cass County is rivaled only by the number of drug cases.
Unlike the fight against drugs, there is no Rape Task Force or tax millage to support an effort to enforce sexual assault laws.
Under the Michigan Constitution, victims have rights:
• The right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy during the criminal justice process.
• The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.
• The right to notification of all court proceedings.
• The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings that the accused has the right to attend.
• The right to confer with the prosecution.
• The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing.
• The right to restitution.
• The right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment and release of the accused.
On April 23 Prosecutor Victor Fitz spoke during a tribute to 83 violent crime victims in Cassopolis.
During the prosecutor’s remarks, Fitz said. “Domestic violence and sexual assault all too often lead to more serious crimes, even murder.”
Later, during his remarks, Mr. Fitz spoke of using prison to deter those who are a continuing danger to our community. As a matter of fact, Mr. Fitz rarely prosecutes CSC first- or third-degree violent rape crimes.
With so few prosecutions, it is my opinion that little deterrent is offered by this prosecutor to protect the public. The prosecutor has sole control over the cases he authorizes for prosecution. Mr. Fitz said, “The bottom-line job of the prosecutor is to seek justice and protect the public.” Are rape victims part of the public too?
Michael A. Glynn