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Reported Rape Rates Higher In Eastern Idaho

Here at Local News 8 we’re always keeping an eye on crime rates, but we stumbled on one that caught us completely off guard: one of the most violating and invasive crimes is actually higher in our area — rape.

In fact, in 2010 in Idaho Falls it was 45 percent above the national average.

“It’s one of society’s hidden, dirty secrets that we don’t talk about very comfortably,” said Sarah Leeds, executive director of the Family Services Alliance of Southeastern Idaho.

Understandable, given the brutality and personal nature of this crime. But it’s time for Eastern Idaho to have a conversation about rape.

“When I first looked at that I thought it was a mistake,” said Idaho Falls Police Chief Steve Roos, who has been watching rape numbers for five years now.

And even though numbers are down in the last few years, nearly half of what they were five years ago, they are still high for a city of its size.

But as strange it sounds, this may not actually be a bad thing.

“I think people are a little more trusting of law enforcement here,” said Roos. “And more willing to come forward.”

And those on the other side of the law generally agree.

“I’m gonna say I think it’s a good thing,” said Leeds.

The numbers just came out for 2011 and there was a good drop in Pocatello. 15 rapes were reported to police, but Leeds says she had 102 Pocatello rape victims come through their doors last year, shedding an uncomfortable light on how under-reported rapes are in general.

“We already know it’s happening at an alarming rate. We just haven’t been able to get people to come in,” said Leeds.

Part of fixing that problem is education, like when Teena McBride from the Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Center in Idaho Falls gets up in front of crowds to do the talking, even if no one else wants to.

“It’s been good. we’ve done a lot of good work,” said McBride.

“We’ve done a lot of work around town, providing outreach putting up posters all over town,” said Leeds.

But there’s a lot of gray area when you’re looking at different cities.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard to compare, some jurisdictions only report it if they can prove it happened, we don’t take that stance at all,” said Roos.

“I think we still have a long way to go in our response for … victims but I think it’s pretty tight here in Southeastern Idaho,” said Leeds.

And interestingly enough, victims of rape in Idaho aren’t eligible for a restraining order against their attacker unless it’s a case of domestic violence. It’s an issue being addressed in this legislative session and could offer some hope for victims in our community.

There are plenty of resources in the area for those who have found themselves victims. One of the quickest and easiest: call the Crisis Hotline at (208) 251-HELP(4357)

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