Editorials

Again failing sex crime victims

Uncounted groups of sex crime victims, few victims coming forward, few prosecutions when they do, light or no punishment for sexual criminals: Sound disappointingly familiar?

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the Defense Department “vastly underreported” sexual violence in military communities. Her findings came just days after the DOD was patting itself on the back for making strides to combat sexual violence.

You would think the military would respond to a senator’s investigation of a frontline issue, but they are stonewalling and giving her a fraction of the information needed to gauge the scope.

From what info she did obtain, she reports that military spouses and civilian women who live or work near bases are especially vulnerable. That’s chilling as well as a warning for our community with Scott Air Force Base such a presence in all our lives.

She also found that in the 107 cases she did obtain, punishment was light, victims were not believed, fewer than 25 percent went to trial and only 11 convictions resulted.

Those results closely mirror our reporters’ findings from the Violation of Trust series, in which they showed that of 6,744 felony sex crimes reported in Southern Illinois, only one in 10 led to a conviction. The government also doesn’t keep stats on felony sex abuse cases, such as molestations, which account for about one in four sexual felonies reported.

These reports are the drum beat. They are a call to action, a call to take a stand.

Where are the heroes to carry the banner into the fray?

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