Sex-Crime Denial and Disbelief Are Bigger Problems Than False Accusations

No one should be ostracized and hounded for the rest of their life for mooning someone, peeing in public or some other minor offense ("Predators and Prey," May 20). And some of the "stranger danger" warnings and fears are red herrings, a way to feel like we're doing something about an issue that's so painful as to be almost unspeakable.

A distraction from a gut-wrenching reality: Most sex crimes are committed by people the victim knows.

But keep in mind that until the "hype" and "hysteria" of the '80s and '90s, crimes of sexual violence were almost never prosecuted. Prosecution and conviction rates are still abysmally low. I did the math on Barbara LaWall's figures. For cases in which there was no iron-clad, computer-recorded evidence, about 43 percent made it to court. How many cases were never even reported? And what was the conviction rate? This could explain why the recidivism rate for sexual offenders is so low—they're just not getting caught again.

And too many of them didn't "just make an awful mistake." Many offend for years. A serial rapist or an active pedophile can severely damage five, 10 or more than 50 lives. Awful as it is, our only choice is between keeping them under tight control, or letting them go on destroying.

Are you going to do an article on the effects of sexual violence? I'll volunteer to be interviewed; these stories need to be told. The sexual violence done to me as a child has cost me years of depression, the chance to have children and more than $10,000 in therapy costs.

Overreaction hurts, but some people really do need to be cracked down upon. There are other ways to reduce sexual violence. Speak out about it if you see it, or anything resembling it. Give money and time to the Emerge! Center or the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault.

Disbelief and denial are still far too common, probably 10 times as common as false or misguided accusations.

Terri S.

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