ARE CRIMINAL SEXUAL CASES ON THE RISE?
Whether it is on a regional or local level, there seems to be an increase in the number of sexual assault and abuse cases in the news. Tragically, many of these involve juvenile victims. WGEL talked with Bond County State's Attorney Chris Bauer who believes there has been an increase in the number of cases filed but not necessarily an increase in the number of crimes. He says public awareness is a factor.
Often prosecutors believe there is something going on but don't have sufficient evidence to back up their suspicion. He credits teachers, counselors, and social workers for being more aware of the signs of abuse and reporting cases to authorities.
Bauer explained the biggest challenge in prosecuting a criminal sexual assault case involving a juvenile can be the victim. He says a child may not seem like a credible witness to some and their testimony may be questioned. Bauer adds that the child victim has also been traumatized and this can complicate getting information.
As of August 25, there were twenty-four registered sex offenders living in Bond County, five of those in Greenville.
In recent years there have been new kinds of evidence allowed for use in prosecuting criminal sexual assault cases. However, according to Bond County State's Attorney Chris Bauer, some of these have been tossed out at the appellate court level. Bauer says the public has some working knowledge of this technology through what he calls "The CSI Phenomenon," referring to the popular TV series.
Bauer believes that people watching the show are amazed by the technology used in investigating cases. He says this can be a fallacy because DNA evidence is not always available in a timely manner. Bauer explained that perpetrators of these crimes are exerting their power over someone else causing that victim to wait to report the case. This loss of time can result in a lack of evidence needed to successfully prosecute the crime.
In criminal sexual assault cases, prosecutors must sometimes convince adult victims that there is no shame in what has happened to them. Often, victims worry about their case becoming part of the public record and their name being used by the media.