An excellent and totally disheartening report by the Star Tribune has found that law enforcement has consistently and utterly failed victims of sexual assault in Minnesota. Out of 1,000 sexual assault cases analyzed, only 26 percent went to prosecutors; victims overall had less than a 1/10 chance of seeing a conviction; and in one in four cases, police never even assigned an investigator, which they do for every case of murder. And these numbers come from only a subset of materials from law enforcement agencies, which reportedly have yet to fill about half of the records requests.
The instances reflect a general attitude which simply doesn’t take rape as a serious crime. In one exemplative story, a woman alleges that even when she provided the location of the rape, immediately called 911 and provided semen from a sexual assault exam, the investigators went back and forth a few times with the suspect and then simply dropped the case. She claims that one of the first things a police officer asked her was: “Why were you drinking alone?”
In other cases, alleged victims claim that police said they “didn’t have the manpower,” or that they never received a call back from the detective. The Tribune found that police were provided serial accusations against the same person which they didn’t bother to connect.
After learning of the Tribune’s findings, head of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Andy Skoogman told that paper that “I think there’s no doubt that law enforcement and prosecution … need to look in the mirror and say, ‘what can we do better collectively?’ ”
The findings are not actually so far from national statistics reported by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which used FBI and DOJ data to estimate that only six out of 1000 accused rapists are incarcerated and that only one in three victims report the assault. The CDC’s 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that one in five women in the US reported having been subjected to attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes, and 43% were 17 or under at the time of the assault.
This report will be the first of the Star Tribune’s new series, “Denied Justice.”