Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sexual Assault Up for Third Consecutive Year

by Erika Templeton

ALLSTON—Rapes in the neighborhood have jumped over the past year, police said. Reported cases rose 36 percent, from 11 rapes and attempts between January and July of 2007 to 15 during the same period in 2008, according to a statistical report released by the Boston Police Department.

The increase comes despite a 2007 initiative to help reduce rape attempts by educating bar managers in rape prevention. The initiative, which called for cooperation between police, bar owners, Boston University, and Boston College, came after a report showed rape cases doubled in Allston and Brighton from 2005 to 2006.

Officials say the increase stems from a rise in date rapes among the student body, many of which involve alcohol. Dan Daly, the district D-14 community service officer, said the spike in rapes can often be traced to “guys and girls meeting at the local bars.”

“There’s definitely a greater risk among student women,” said Simon Smith, 23, a manager at Wonder Bar. “They go out for a while, meet some guy at the bar, and all of a sudden, his house is closer.”

The women’s bathroom at Wonder Bar used to have signs that read “Don’t be the next victim.” Smith said they were torn down and the city won’t fund new ones.

The law says penetration must occur for an assault to be categorized as rape. More often, cases fall under the broader category of sexual assault, and go unrecognized.

Annual reports from the Boston University Police Department use a looser definition of “forcible sex offenders.” In 2006, there were seven incidents of sexual assault on campus alone.

Officer Daly said police efforts to raise awareness may have led to the recent spike in reported sexual assaults. “A lot of women probably heard about it, went to a lecture and said, ‘Hey, that happened to me too.’”

Questions or comments are welcome at etemp@bu.eduA typical Saturday night at Wonder Bar.

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