Police Admit Public Not Told Truth About Rapes - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: The Truth About Crime

Police Admit Public Not Told Truth About Rapes


by Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time, Metropolitan Nashville Police are now admitting there were more rapes in Nashville than they told the public.
Police are reclassifying hundreds of sexual assault calls after our NewsChannel 5 investigation into The Truth About Crime.
Detectives in the Sex Crimes unit have spent months reviewing sexual assault calls dating back to 2007. They now admit that more than 200 calls were "mislabeled."
Metro Police put numerous sexual assault calls into a category called "matter of record" – which does not count in the final crime stats.
The reclassification means the number of rapes will go up.
For six straight years, police touted the fact that forcible rapes were going down in Nashville.  They went from 390 in 2004 – to 290 in 2009.
As rapes went down, our investigation discovered the number of cases detectives labeled  "matter of record" went up.
Our findings concerned Metro Council member and newly elected state lawmaker Jim Gotto.
"You have to be honest with people, and we need to have fair honest reporting of crime stats," Gotto said.
He was surprised when we showed him the latest police department admission that more than 200 cases were mislabeled in 2009 and 2010.
"I think that indicates that there is a serious issue there," Gotto said.
Matter-of-record cases used to be rare.
In 2001, Metro Police classified just five percent of all sexual assault cases as matter of record, but the percentage went up year after year.
In 2009, more than 30 percent of all sexual assault calls were classified as matter of record. That meant more than 500 sexual assault calls were not counted in the crime stats in 2009.
After our questions, police began a review of all matter-of-record cases.
In 2009, police classified 523 cases as matters of record.  They now say 161 of those cases were "mislabeled." That's more than 30 percent that they are reclassifying. 

Police say 55 of those cases will now be counted as rapes. It's not clear how the remainder of the cases will be classified.
In 2010, police are reclassifying 28 percent of all matter-of-record cases, but haven't yet said how many will be classified as rape.
Lisa Baucom reported being raped in 2008, but she was shocked when we showed her that police labeled her case a "matter of record."
Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were surprised, too.
They say it should have been called forcible rape.
"There was a crime that happened that day. I know for a fact there was a crime that happened," Baucom said.
Police have not yet reviewed cases from 2008.
Jim Gotto is still waiting for the results of an audit of crime stats called for by the mayor.
"I certainly hope they're paying attention and they see this information and they include this in what they're looking at in their audit," Gotto said.
Police stress that all crime reports are still investigated even if they are labeled matters of record.  They are not re-opening cases, just reclassifying them.
Mayor Karl Dean called for an independent audit of the police department's crime statistics after our stories aired last year.
That audit is still underway.

E-mail: bhall@newschannel5.com

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