Rape cases higher in New Mexico than national average

Posted at: 01/23/2014 5:40 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque police and prosecutors are teaming up with advocates for rape victims to map out new ways to crack down on the crime and help the survivors.

The timing couldn’t be better. Thursday’s meeting comes a day after the White House issued its national rape report, bringing attention to the issue from coast to coast.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg put it together – prosecutors and police officers comparing notes and numbers with the women who work at the Rape Crisis Center and nurses who work with rape victims too.

In New Mexico one out of every four women has been raped at least once in her life. That’s above the national average of one in five, and police say they’re telling the truth at least 94 percent of the time. They say only four to six percent of rape reports turn out to be false.

“It is not uncommon for friends of someone who’s been sexually assaulted to not believe them, and that’s the culture we live in,” said Teresa D’Anza of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). “One of the messages that we are constantly trying to get out there to believe when somebody discloses a sexual assault.”

87 percent of New Mexico rape victims know their attacker, and police say the vast majority of attackers have multiple victims.

“It is not the scary person in a trench coat hanging out behind a bush or in an alleyway,” said Bianca Villani of the Rape Crisis Center. “The victims and survivors know the assailant.”

The White House report zeroes in on the tidal wave of rapes on the nation’s college campuses. The University of New Mexico has already formed a Sexual Assault Response Team that is working on many issues highlighted in the White House report.