GUAM RAPE RATE ‘HIGHEST IN U.S.’

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60% of reported cases lead to arrests

By Brett Kelman

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 12, 2011) – There are nearly three times as many rapes reported on Guam than in an average American town of the same size, and about 40 percent of those reports never led to an arrest.

According to a five-year average compiled from Census data, about 30 rapes are reported for each year for every 100,000 residents in the United States. However, for the same number of Guam residents, about 88 rapes are reported to local police each year, according to the 2009 Guam Police Department Unified Crime Report.

GPD reports show that there were 722 rapes reported to local police between 2005 and 2009, more reports of rape per capita on Guam than in any state or territory in the rest of America.

"We do have our fair share of cases and we do have a specialized unit that deals with these cases," said Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas last week, when presented with Guam's rape statistics. "We do that because these cases are important, and we want people with training to handle them ... to handle evidence and interviews especially."

One of the newest cases handled by that specialized unit is the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl, which was GPD's top priority for the first half of last week. Two men and a teenager have been charged in the case.

When police announced the arrests on Wednesday, they confidently warned that rapists will be caught by authorities.

However, according to a five-year average from the GPD crime report only about 60 percent of rape reports actually lead to an arrest.

This may contribute to Guam's high number of rape reports, Rapadas said. Sex offenders have a tendency to commit their crime again, so if nearly 40 percent of them are never arrested in the first place, they may be even more likely to rape again, Rapadas said.

The key to breaking this cycle is to report any sexual assault immediately to protect future victims, Rapadas said.

"People don't report for a variety of reasons," Rapadas said. "But we always try to ... empower victims to (encourage) them out there to report to whomever they can, but there are always victims out there who don't do that."

According to 2009 rape statistics kept by the FBI, there are five times as many rapes reported per capita on Guam than in New York City, and about three times more than in Washington, D.C.

There also are twice as many rapes reported per capita on Guam than in the open spaces of Kansas or Montana or the deep south of Alabama, Louisiana or Florida.

In fact, when compared to Guam, only Alaska comes close -- with about 70 rapes reported per 100,000 residents. Hawaii records about 30 rape reports per 100,000 residents.

Guam's startling rape report statistics came as a surprise to Dr. Ellen Bez, a medical consultant for the Healing Hearts Crisis Center, which provides free medical attention and counseling to victims after a sexual attack.

Records at Healing Hearts only account for about two-thirds of the rape cases in the GPD report, so it is not entirely clear who is helping the other victims, if anyone, she said.

Some of those victims may seek counseling from military programs, or others may just decline help after they make their report to police. A percentage of the statistics must be false reports also, Bez said.

Regardless, even the lower statistics at Healing Hearts -- 116 sexual assault cases in 2008, for example -- are immensely troubling, Bez said.

"The national statistics are that 60 to 80 percent (of rapes) go unreported, so what we are seeing is the just the tip of the iceberg," Bez said. "We only really see a little bit of what goes on out there ... That is just as true here, because in this culture people are taught that you don't talk about your business. We have another hurdle, that people's business stays in the family, and that is not in the victim's best interest, or in the best interest of the community."

Ultimately, a community that allows rapes to go unreported is an environment that fosters more sexual assault, which is likely a factor that contributes to Guam's high rate of rape per capita, Bez said.

On Guam, an average of 30 percent of forcible rapes occur within the family, the GPD crime report states. In 2009, about half the Guam rape victims were under the age of 18, although this statistic isn't available for other years.

A second issue that would contribute to Guam's high rate of rape reporting are sex offenders who target tourists, and are therefore harder to convict, Rapadas said.

Some rapists prey on Guam's Japanese tourists because, although they may file a police report, these women are less likely to return to testify against their attacker, Rapadas said. This leaves prosecutors handicapped at trial, the AG said.

One example of this issue is Arnold Kitano, a convicted rapist who was sentenced to life in prison in 2009. According to Pacific Daily News files, prosecutors said in court that Kitano targeted tourists for years.

Kitano once bragged to authorities about how easy it was to get away with rape, court documents state. Kitano was only convicted after he raped a local woman whom he had mistaken for a tourist.

Both GPD and the census define forcible rape the same way. Attempted rapes were counted, statutory rape was not counted and only rapes with female victims count. Both reports state that sexual assaults of men are counted as aggravated assaults.

The resulting numbers are then proportioned to the size of the surrounding population, which produces comparable per capita statistics.

Pacific Daily News: http://www.guampdn.com

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Comments

I was strangled and sexually assaulted at grand plaza hotel on st Patrick's night. Instead of helping me the g4 s security people harassed me at every hotel I checked in. Never did they respond to dart police when requesting cctv coverage of me having a penis shoved down my throat and getting strangled. Then i was made to be a ceiminal when the g4 s security guard actially created drama with a lie. Hmmm ive contated deptof justoce. Ypur island disgusts me.

Now that you are more aware of my case I ask that it get exposed and my URL be removed because I NEVER was brandishing a knife at tourists. These g4 s security guards were harassing me to.cover for a rapist and their liability unto which I am trying to sue the hotel and g4 s.

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