South Bend rape cases up significantly in first four months of 2 - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend rape cases up significantly in first four months of 2014

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Some staggering statistics in South Bend.

While overall crime is down the first four months of this year compared to last, violent crime is up, particularly rape cases.

The statistics are frightening for people like Linda Baechle, the CEO of the YWCA of Northern Indiana, who works with rape victims.  "Rape just has a lifelong impact on women," says Baechle.

Year to date numbers through April for 2013 show 15 rape cases, compared to 33 in 2014. That's a 120% increase.

"It's hard to see numbers like that fluctuate so drastically in a one year period. So somewhere out there, there is an explanation for this, but it's kind of a good question right now what's exactly is going on," says Captain Phil Trent with the South Bend Police Department. Trent says while it's difficult to guess, the department could be seeing an increase in victims reporting the crime.

The YWCA offers free counseling to rape victims. Baechle doesn't believe an increase in reporting is the reason behind the increase in rape cases. "All the same things that keep women from reporting are still there. And there has been nothing real that's addressed the fact that there are all these barriers and it's so difficult for women to come forward," she says. She says those barriers include many times pushing rape victims into testifying against their attackers. Baechle says it would be beneficial to use other evidence to prosecute offenders, rather than victim testimony.

Baechle says she's spoken to South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman about what could be behind the spike. While it's unclear, she points to an increase in overall violent crime.  "People misunderstand and think that rape is about sex. It's not about sex. It's about power and control," says Baechle.

Baechle says the culture of crime in our community needs to change to make a difference. "Creating a culture where it is really unacceptable to rape and we're really going to hold you accountable." She adds, rapists typically commit the crime six times before getting locked up.

Overall, violent crime in South Bend is up for the first four months of the year compared to last. That includes murders, rape, and aggravated assault.

Murders went from 2 to 7 for a 250% increase. Aggravated assault went from 42 cases to 68 for a 62% increase. However, other non-violent, but serious crimes are down. Those are things like burglary and motor vehicle theft. That makes what the police department classifies as "serious crime" in South Bend down about 6% overall.
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