Sioux Falls ranks high on sexual violence

Kristin Marthaler

Kristin Marthaler

The November issue of Self Magazine reported that Sioux Falls is the third highest city for sexual violence against women, but local experts dispute that claim.

“Even though the numbers are high, they are misleading. However, either way you look at it, one rape is one rape too many,” said Matt Theophilus, the Executive Director at the Rape and Domestic Abuse Center in Sioux Falls.

He said the Rape and Domestic Abuse Center would be the first to admit of the actual rates were this high.

“If those were the statistics, we would be the first to admit that there is an epidemic out there and that there is something that should be done about it,” Theophilus said.

He also said, you can ask any woman walking down the streets in Sioux Falls if they felt threatened in any way, and 95 percent of them would say they wouldn’t.

“Seventy percent of all sexual abuse cases reported are date and acquaintance rapes. Meaning, the stranger attack rapes is very minimal, and I think that is where every one gets confused,” Theophilus said.

Bruce Bailey, a lieutenant for the Sioux Falls Police Department in the Crimes Against Persons Department, also reacted to the article.

“Not all 117 rapes that were reported in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR) were sexual abuse,” he said. “One third of them were actually child molestation and even smaller percentage were stranger rapes.”

Not all states report child molestation when they are reporting to the UCR, and not all states give proper information when releasing the numbers, Bailey said

“For example in New York, if there is 240 homicides, and only 272 rapes that is not right. They are obviously not reporting the correct numbers,” Bailey said.

There are three categories for sexual assaults: child molesters, statutory rape and rape out of our jurisdiction, Bailey said.

“It makes it sound like there are a massive amount of rapists out there, but there isn’t. Also, the reports put out each year are based on population,” Bailey said.

Robert Mendelsohn, a professor in the criminal justice department, also disagreed with the claim in the magazine.

“I knew something was up when I read those reports,” he said. “There was no way that information could be right, especially from the survey information they used.”

Mendelsohn, who teaches criminology and other related courses, is teaching a section about rape in his class.

“Seventy percent of all rapes are by acquaintances. Stranger rape is very minimal,” Mendelsohn said.

Not all cases reported are followed up on, Theophilus said.

“Some cases that are reported are dropped the next day when the woman admits she just wanted some free contraception, or she was sleeping with her boyfriend and didn’t want her parents to find out about it,” Theophilus said.