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I, too, am a volunteer with MSU’s sexual assault program and I concur with Bridget that the police and prosecution often do a wonderful job with survivors of sexual assault.
Whether or not Mr. Dunnings was misquoted in the article, I can’t say. I think the question here is: Why was this case dropped? I think MSU students, family members, and the community deserve to know why it was decided that a sexual assault case was not worth the effort of attempting a trial, whereas other violent crimes are. Mr. Dunnings was quoted as saying, “After we reviewed the case, we could not convict.” Since Mr. Dunnings’ webpage (http://www.stuartdunnings.com/) says his first priority is “Targeting serious, violent felons”, I wonder why he thinks that less than 44% of reported rapes are not “convictable” (see below for how I calculated that number). I would say that rapists are “serious, violent felons”, and I think most people would agree.
According to the Lansing Police Department’s 2008 Annual Report, which was the most recent report I could find (http://www.lansingmi.gov/Lansing/police/docs/annual/2008_annual_report.pdf), there were 95 rapes reported that year. According to the 2007 annual report, there were 183 rapes reported that year (http://www.lansingmi.gov/Lansing/police/docs/reports/LPDs_Annual_Report_for_2007_In_the_Spotlight.pdf), but the number changes to 97 on the 2008 report. In any case, keep in mind these categories do not include any other type of sexual assault, so the actual number of all types of reported sexual assaults is likely much higher.
In the 2008 Prosecutor’s Annual Report (http://www.ingham.org/PA/2008Prosecutor’sannualreport.pdf), it was reported that “There were a total of 43 cases issued by this unit in 2008.” In the report, the categories of “Child Abuse” and “Criminal Sexual Conduct” (CSC) are lumped together, so it seems that this number reflects child victims of CSC as well as adult victims of CSC. The 2007 Annual Report (http://www.ingham.org/PA/PDF/PA2007Annualrpt.pdf) states that there were 41 cases of adult and juvenile CSC charged that year.
Looking at these numbers, it seems to me that less than half of rapes reported to the police in our area in the last few years are being prosecuted. And since I could only find statistics on reported rapes for Lansing, not for all of Ingham County, it is evident that the percentage of reported rapes in Ingham County being prosecuted is much smaller than my estimate of 44%.
According to RAINN (http://www.rainn.org): “If a rape is reported, there is a 50.8% chance of an arrest. If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution. If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of conviction. If there is a felony conviction, there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail. So even in the 39% of attacks that are reported to the police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 15 of 16 walk free.” (These statistics were gathered by RAINN from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for Policy Analysis.)
If Ingham County is prosecuting less than 44% of reported rapes, we are not doing much to help improve the above statistics. I think we can do much better, and I hope more rape and sexual assault cases are prosecuted in the future.
Posted by Maria 09/09/10 9:42pm.