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Rape cases increase in Dallas County

By

The Times-Journal

Last Sunday, a 20-year-old Selma woman was kidnapped, held against her will for several hours and raped.

Since then, Selma police have been working hard on capturing her attacker and investigating the case.

Unfortunately, rape is a crime that is growing in frequency all over the state and Dallas County.

Statistics compiled by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center show that both statutory and forcible rapes have increased in

Alabama. The cases increased over a five-year period by 9 percent with rapes reportedly increasing from 1,438 cases to 1,561cases from 1999 to 2003.

Between the years of 2001 and 2002, the state showed a 17 percent increase in the number of rapes.

Dallas County’s figures show an even bigger increase.

In 1999, 25 rapes were reported in the county. In 2003, law enforcement officials reported 37 rapes, an increase of 48 percent over a five-year period.

Between 2001 and 2002, Dallas County showed an increase from 22 rapes to 38 reported incidents.

According to the report, the numbers reflect an honest statistical trend.

Most rapes occur in the victim’s home, according to the report.

The problem is not lost on local officials.

Shannon Lynch, prosecutor for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, covering Dallas County, specializes in prosecuting sexual crimes.

In the next trial week for Dallas County, she has five cases involving first-degree rape charges. One includes three codefendants involved in the same rape.

She said that the district attorney, Michael Jackson, has made it clear to her that rape is a crime that will be taken seriously by his office.

She said she hopes the increase in awareness will help deter more rapes from occurring.

She said that the state needs to do more, however, to help her do her job.

She said that because it takes so long for a rape case to go to trial some victims aren’t willing to wait three years for a case.

Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin said that his department is dedicated to protecting women in the city.

Since the attack last Sunday, Martin said his patrolling officers have increased their awareness and response to &8220;suspicious individuals.&8221;

He said he’s encouraging his officers to conduct more field interviews of people who look suspicious in order to find out more about their surroundings and the potential danger they may pose.

He said in the coming months, the SPD will reinstate its Citizens Police Academy, which includes a &8220;street survival&8221; segment with general safety tips on preventing violent crime, including rape.

As far as Sunday’s incident goes, Martin said he is confident the case will be closed soon.

Martin said his department is still asking for the public’s help in solving the crime.

Anyone with any information about a suspicious person in the Bloch Park area on Sunday, Nov. 27 is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CRIMESTOPPERS.