Utah Rape Rate Rises

Utah Rape Rate Rises

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Though Utah's murder rate is one-third the national average, and its robbery and aggravated assault rates are at less than half the nation's rate, the state's rape rate is worse than average.

And the rate has been getting worse.

By 2002, Utah ranked 14th in the nation for rapes.

According to a study released this week by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Utah's rape rate grew by 93 percent between 2000 and 2003.

Less than 6 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by strangers to the victims, the study found.

"This is not the guy-jumping-out-of-the bush-with-a-mask-on scenario," said Mike Haddon, director of research for the commission. Rather, offenders are often boyfriends, acquaintances or family members of the victim.

The study also found that the prime victims of sexual assault, which includes mainly fondling, are girls around the age of 16. As the age nears 20, the chances of a woman being raped increases.

Haddon said one surprise in the study was the lack of age difference between the victim and perpetrator.

"The younger the victim, the younger the perpetrator; the older the victim, the older the perpetrator," Haddon said.

The study shows cases of sodomy being nearly evenly split between male and female victims. Same-sex victims made up 18 percent of all cases, with the same narrow age difference seen in opposite-sex cases.

"The male-on-male cases were actually younger in age than opposite-sex counterparts," Haddon said.

Sex offenders were most commonly men in their mid-20s, and use of drugs and alcohol was rarely a factor.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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