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Dramatic Increase in Number of Forcible Rapes in Bridgeport

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2013 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse |

The following article was published in the CT Post. The statistics from the report are troubling.  Bridgeport’s Mayor Finch is launching his own investigation. The article follows: Just a few sex offenders are apparently responsible for the dramatic increase in the number of forcible rapes in the city reported by the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report. The FBI statistics, released Monday, showed the number of reported cases of forcible rape had tripled here to 388 in 2012 from 116 in 2011. This number was also three times higher than the combined number of rapes reported in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury in 2012.

But Bridgeport police spokesman William Kaempffer said that doesn’t mean there were more rapes, or rapists, in the city last year.”Investigators encounter cases in which a suspect is accused in dozens or in some cases hundreds of assaults with the same or small number of victims,” he said. “That does not mean Bridgeport has a higher rate of sexual assaults.”In fact, police arrested one man last year on 156 counts of raping a local 10-year-old boy while he was living here with his family. Rafael Padilla-Cruz, 22, of Florida, was charged with so many counts after he was accused of sexually assaulting the boy on an almost daily basis between 2007 and 2008.One other man, Confessor Soto, 51, was charged in May 2012 with 80 counts of first-degree sexual assault and 80 counts of risk of injury to a minor for allegedly raping the 13-year-old daughter of a family friend. Five months later, 24-year-old Elier Garcia, of New Haven, was arrested and accused of raping an 8-year-old girl he had been babysitting 28 times.”When the Bridgeport Police Department compiles crime statistics for the Department of Justice, our analysts base them on individual incidents,” Kaempffer said. “We cannot speak for how other departments compile figures.”Calls to the New Haven and Hartford police departments were not returned Tuesday.FBI spokesman Stephen G. Fischer Jr. said each forcible rape is counted as one offense in the Uniform Crime Report.”Reporting agencies must classify one offense for each person raped or upon whom an assault to rape or attempt to rape has been made,” Fischer wrote in an email Tuesday. “Reporting agencies must classify rape or attempted rape regardless of the age of the victim.”Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication for the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, said that while increased statistics sometimes mean an increase in crime, it could also mean more victims are reporting the incidents to the police department and local advocacy agencies.”It can really be difficult to determine the meaning of any kind of statistics,” she said. “Sometimes, when we see an increase, it’s a good thing. Maybe they feel more comfortable reporting the incidents. Maybe we’re doing a better job decreasing the stigma.”Rape and sexual assault are some of the most underreported crimes, with only about 50 percent of cases reported each year.Although the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, a domestic violence and rape crisis services agency, has seen a slight increase in the number of people they serve, President Debra Greenwood was still surprised by Bridgeport’s statistics.”The numbers seem extremely high,” she said. “The reporting piece of it sometimes can skew the numbers.”She noted that of the 330 cases of adult victims of sexual assault the agency handled last fiscal year, which ran from July 2011 to June 2012, 293 were from Bridgeport. There were also 126 city minors, under the age of 18, served by the agency.The agency also serves Trumbull, Monroe, Easton, Fairfield and Stratford.This fiscal year, the agency is already up to 340 adults, again mostly from Bridgeport. Like Bridgeport’s UCR statistics, those rates count each request for assistance separately, even if there are repeat visitors.Both Doroghazi and Greenwood caution, however, about assuming the numbers indicate the city is more dangerous. As was the case in the arrests Bridgeport police blame on the rise in rapes, most cases of sexual assault are carried out by someone the victim knows.”Most cases are not stranger reports,” Greenwood said. “At least 90 percent of cases of sexual assault are done by someone you know, you maybe trust, that you love.”While the number of forcible rapes dropped nationally by three-tenths of a percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the FBI report, Doroghazi noted that the trend would likely reverse next year due to a recent change in the FBI’s definition of rape.The definition of rape, in place since the late 1920s, only took into account female victims penetrated forcibly, hence the title of forcible rape. Victims who are drugged or unconscious when raped, someone raped by a person of the same sex and male victims are not included in the statistics.Beginning with this year’s numbers, a new definition will require law enforcement to include these offenses as well, officials said.”The new definition of rape is: 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,” Fischer wrote in his email.Greenwood said reporting rapes and sexual assaults is critical to preventing future attacks.”I would just say that from where I stand, the No. 1 most important factor is now we know the numbers are being reported — the best thing we can do as a community is increase prevention efforts,” Greenwood said.A plan to turn the Center for Women and Families into a one-stop service agency providing law enforcement, legal, medical and other services by 2015, in addition to the safe houses, support services and crisis hotline, should help, she said.



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