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New Definition Could Increase Statistics on Rape or Sexual Assaults

Posted: Feb 4, 2013 1:09 PM by Krystal Scott
Updated: Feb 5, 2013 7:04 PM

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COLUMBIA - The FBI's new definition of rape could increase Missouri's recorded numbers of sexual assaults in this year's Crime in Missouri report statistics.

The definition now includes sexual assaults on men as rape. The new definition has very specific anatomical language detailing what sort of sexual contact is considered rape.

This new definition is expected to boost statistical numbers slightly for 2013, because the state will now count the sexual assaults that were not previously considered in its Uniformed Crime Reports given to the FBI by local police. This information is also distributed to state agencies like the Missouri Highway Patrol to use in its yearly crime report.

According to Missouri's latest statistics, 1,457 rapes were reported in 2011. However, this doesn't include sexual attacks on males.

The Columbia Police public relations unit supervisor, Sgt. Joe Bernhard, said Columbia the department already accounts for any type of sexual assault for either gender. Bernhard said the Missouri Statute for Sexual Offenses is gender neutral and protects both men and women; making police count all rapes and sexual offenses no matter the gender of the victim.

Bernhard also said he doesn't expect the statistics to jump very high once the FBI counts male sexual assaults. He said, "95 to 98 percent of victims that were reported from us were females. So I don't think there is going to be a great increase in our numbers."

While Barbara Hodges, the executive director of the Columbia True North Shelter, also said she doesn't expect an increase in Columbia statistics, she did understand the importance of the new definition. Hodges said, "We know it happens much more than it is reported. We know that for every two (women) in the hospital there is another two or three who haven't reported it."

Hodges also said sexually assaulted men very rarely use the True North shelter, but she has helped a handful. Hodges said she is hopeful the new definition will open a movement to accept conversations about sexual violence against males. Hodges said, "The more we can talk about it the more likely a male can come forward."

No matter how many or how few, these individuals will now be counted in the state and national statistics as victims of sexual crime

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