The Belleville News-Democrat has won another national journalism award for its series on the failure to prosecute felony sex crimes reported to police over a nine year period in Southern Illinois.
The series, “Violation of Trust,” by BND reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, won a Sigma Delta Chi Award in investigative reporting for daily newspapers with a circulation up to 50,000.
The award, announced Friday, is given by the Society of Professional Journalists.
The rape series, which was published in February 2015, reported that 70 percent of of sex crimes — rape and felony sexual abuse — reported to police in 32 southernmost Illinois counties were never prosecuted, and of those that made it to a courtroom, 95 percent of defendants never received prison time.
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The series also won a National Headliner Award, the John Jay College award for investigative journalism from John Jay College in New York, and was named a finalist by the group Investigative Reporters & Editors in the Innovation in Investigative Reporting category.
The Sigma Delta Chi Awards date back to 1932, when the SPJ honored six individuals for their contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939 as the Distinguished Service Awards.
This year, judges selected 84 honorees from more than 1,400 submissions in categories for newspapers, television, radio, online news outlets and magazines.