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Few Rape Victims Get Justice

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  • TBI Crime Data On Rapes

    TBI Crime Data On Rapes

    Forcible RapesArrestsArrest %Statewide Arrest % 2003349339.5%18.7% 20044164911.8%17.8% 20053473911.3%21.0% 2006341329.9%18.9% 20072983612.1%21.9% 20082984214.1%22.8%more>>

By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

Hundreds of women report being raped each year in Nashville.

But a NewsChannel 5 investigation reveals that few of those cases ever result in an arrest or criminal prosecution, leaving many rape victims frustrated and angry with the legal system.

A woman, whom we've called Cindy, is still upset with how prosecutors handled her case after she reported being raped five years ago.

"In the long run it got worse because there was no justice," Cindy said.

She hoped she would at least have a chance to tell her story to a jury, but prosecutors said there was not enough evidence.

Cindy was 25 years old when it happened. She went out with some friends, had some drinks and slept at a girlfriend's house.

That's when she says a man, who happened to be a friend of her girlfriend, came into her room.

"He forced himself on me, and then at the very last minute, it was intercourse. I know because I had never had it before," Cindy said.

Afterward she did what you're supposed to do.

She saved her clothes, called police and had a rape exam.

"There was evidence," Cindy exclaimed.

But Cindy will never forget what prosecutors told her when they said they would not take her case to court.

"They said 'I don't think we're going to win, and I don't want to put you through that even though I believe you," said Cindy.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "The prosecutor said he didn't want to put you through this, but you were ready to go through with it, right?"

Cindy responded, "After what I had been through, yeah. I was ready to go through with it."

Cindy's story is not unusual. In 2005, the year Cindy reported her rape, nearly 90 percent of rape reports in Davidson County resulted in no arrest and no prosecution.

It's the same year after year. Last year, 265 women in Davidson County reported they were raped.

But police only made arrests in 40 of those cases. So 85 percent of reported rapes never went anywhere.

Rape counselors see it all the time.

"It's hard for me to have to continually tell people 'be prepared that there's a good chance this will never go to court,'" said Amy Moseley who works with Nashville's Sexual Assault Center.

She said many rape survivors feel re-victimized after they report the crime.

"Some people say I feel that I've been raped by the system," Moseley said.

Statewide arrests and prosecution for rape are consistently higher than in Metro.

Across Tennessee, an average of 20 percent of reported rapes have resulted in arrests since 2003, compared to about 12 percent in Davidson County.

It's up to District Attorney General Torry Johnson's office to decide whether to move forward with an arrest and prosecution.

"Ethically, we have to believe we can prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt," Johnson said.

He said it comes down to what a jury will believe and has nothing to do with being timid about prosecuting cases that are tough to win.

"That comes from an objective evaluation on our part of whether we think we can convince 12 people and, if we can't convince ourselves, then we have not business trying to convince 12 jurors," Johnson said.

In many cases, like Cindy's, the suspect says the sex was consensual.

"It was a 'he-said, she-said' situation and they thought that they (the jury) would believe him over me," Cindy said.

Amy Moseley doesn't believe that 85 percent or more of all women who report rape are making it up.

She worries the system fails too many rape survivors like Cindy.

"I didn't get to tell my side of it," Cindy said. "It was almost like he was able to do it and get away with it and we were the ones who suffered in the end."

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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