Reported cases of sexual assault increase in 2007

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

The number of reported victims of sexual assault doubled in Curry and Roosevelt counties between 2006 and 2007 among females ages 11 months to 17 years old, according to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Pattie Johnson, the Victim Impact Program Director for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Clovis, believes that the increased numbers are directly related to an increase in public awareness campaigns through the same unit which is serving both counties in southeastern New Mexico. “I believe that word is getting out to sexual assault victims of crimes and so they are being reported more frequently and victims are more aware of assistance that can be provided to them,” Johnson said.

With that said however, Amber Hamilton, administrator for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) of the Ninth Judicial District office, said there is a need for continued awareness about sexual assault. “Statistics reveal that one in every three women and one in every six men experience some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime, whether it is sexual assault, abuse or attempted rape,” Hamilton said.

To help increase awareness, April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to Hamilton, April 3 has been designated as National Day of Action for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office is working with local coffee houses in Portales and Clovis to serve beverages in purple cups about preventing or reporting sexual assaults and will distribute palm cards with information about ways to prevent sexual violence in work places and in the community. Also, on April 25, SANE will have an open house for its Clovis location at 912 W. 21st Street, inside the rural health clinic.

According to Johnson, one person is raped every 2.7 minutes in the United States today, and within the Curry and Roosevelt counties areas, there are more than 70 registered sex offenders.

According to the SANE report, 13 victims were between the ages of 25-59 years old, a slightly higher number than the previous year. Also, the number of victims between the ages of 18-24 was actually down to 7, compared to 13 last year.