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Victims often wait years to report rapes, police say

When Prince William County police put out their annual crime statistics this week, it showed a dramatic rise in reported rapes. There were 57 last year, compared to 28 in 2008.

But the notation was marked withan asterisk and a note: "18 of the reported rapes occurred in years prior to 2009. Two of the reported offenders were not known to their victim. All of the remaining offenders were acquainted with, or related to the victim."

I called county police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Chinn for an explanation. Chinn said that it's not unusual for victims to wait weeks or even years before reporting rapes, especially those committed by a family member or acquaintance.

But police have no explanation for why so many people came forward last year. "Was there an Oprah show about kids who were raped and hadn't reported it?" Chinn said. "We don't really know."

She said 48 cases have been cleared either by an arrest or for another reason. Some victims choose to not cooperate in a prosecution, she said. And a few suspects have fled the country.

Two of the unsolved rapes in Prince William County last year were committed by the East Coast Rapist, a man who has been attacking women since at least the late 1990s.

DNA links the unknown man to a series of rapes and other assaults in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  April 21, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  East Coast Rapist , Maria Glod , Pr. William , Sex Crimes  
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