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Unsolved Crimes, Unanswered Questions Chicago Police Haven't Made Any Arrests in 3 Years of Rogers Park Sexual Assault Reports

By Mary Norkol

Loyola students who file a police report for a criminal sexual assault near campus likely won’t see their offender arrested — at least not right away, based on current trends.

Since August 2016, 12 criminal sexual assaults have been reported to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in Rogers Park just off Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus — part of CPD’s 24th District — according to public crime data. Of those cases, 11 have been suspended and one remains open and under investigation, according to CPD News Affairs Officer Jessica Rocco.

This means CPD hasn’t made arrests for any criminal sexual assaults reported in the area since before current Loyola seniors arrived on campus just over three years ago.

A case is categorized as criminal sexual assault if a person “commits an act of sexual penetration” using force or threats, or if the victim is a minor or unable to give consent, according to Illinois law.

Of the 12 Rogers Park cases, two likely took place at Loyola, with location descriptions “college/university grounds” and “college/university residence hall.”

It's impossible to know if any of the people who reported sexual assault to CPD were students, but two reports likely took place on campus. Alanna Demetrius | The Phoenix.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email that cases of rape and criminal sexual assault are taken seriously, but since physical evidence and testimony are required to prosecute, it can be difficult to make arrests.

Guglielmi also said in cases where victims don’t know their attacker, the investigation relies on DNA and other physical evidence. DNA tests can take more than a year to produce results, and cases are often classified as suspended while detectives look for other evidence, according to Guglielmi. He said CPD works with the Illinois State Police — which often conducts DNA tests — to get faster results.

Chicago police took 12 reports of criminal sexual assault in an area just off campus in the last three years. None have been solved. Alanna Demetrius | The Phoenix

Sarah Layden is the director of programs and public policy at Resilience, a Chicago-based rape crisis center. She said she knows the solve rate for sexual assaults in Chicago is low because of DNA testing and a “wide variety of reasons” cases are suspended and take so long to solve. But she said CPD making zero arrests in Rogers Park is concerning.

“While I would hope to see at least a few of those 12 resolved, I don’t know that we’re in a place where unfortunately I’m shocked by it, in all honesty,” Layden said.

A report from the organization Human Rights Watch found that 1,474 of 7,494 collections of physical evidence, or “rape kits,” obtained since 1995 in 127 Illinois agencies were confirmed as “tested.” This means around 80 percent of rape kits in the data set weren’t tested.

Most sexual assaults aren’t reported — with only 23 percent of crimes reported to the police according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). RAINN statistics also indicate that roughly 20 percent of the reports lead to an arrest.

Layden said the staff at Resilience encourages people to learn about the criminal justice system and the reality of going through a sexual assault investigation before deciding to file a police report. She said she would advise sexual assault victims to contact a rape crisis center and look into alternatives to a criminal investigation before making a decision.

Sexual assault solve rates fall in line with CPD’s dismal solve rates of other serious crime near the Lake Shore Campus, according to a 2018 Phoenix analysis. That analysis found solve rates for criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault or battery and homicide were 50 percent or lower for crimes reported in 2015-2017.

In neighboring Edgewater, just south of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, 25 cases of criminal sexual assault were reported since August 2016, according to public crime data. But police couldn’t provide the status of all 25 reports by the time of publication.

In one of these cases, a Loyola student told police he was drugged and sexually assaulted in Edgewater near the Lake Shore Campus last October. More than a year later, that case hasn’t been solved and DNA hasn’t been tested.

At Loyola, students can report sexual assaults involving other Loyola students or employees to the school’s Office for Equity and Compliance, where a Title IX administrative investigation can be launched, referring to a federal law which prohibits gender discrimination. Students who launch an investigation still have the option to go to the police to pursue a criminal investigation, but they aren’t required to by the office.

In 2018, 10 rapes were reported on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, according to annual crime statistics released by Loyola, officially called the Annual Security Report and Fire Safety Report. This is a jump from eight rapes on campus in 2017.

Loyola Campus Safety Administrative Commander Tim Cunningham said none of the 10 reports from 2018 became criminal investigations. If a student reports a sexual assault to a “mandated reporter,” such as a professor or a resident assistant, their case will be referred to Title IX.

He said even though the number of reports increases, there’s no way to know if assaults themselves are increasing due to the number of sexual assaults that go unreported.

Loyola Campus Safety doesn't investigate sexual assaults, but it can provide students with resources. Alanna Demetrius | The Phoenix.

“I think more people are coming forward and reporting it,” Cunningham said. “We encourage people to come forward and report it.”

While Campus Safety doesn’t investigate sexual assaults, Cunningham said Campus Safety and Loyola’s Title IX employees can provide resources to sexual assault victims.

"I think more people are coming forward and reporting it. We encourage people to come forward and report it." - Tim Cunningham, Loyola Campus Safety administrative commander

Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney said in a statement to The Phoenix that the university takes “extensive measures” to provide resources to students, faculty and staff. She said she supports the departments on campus whose work deals with sexual assault.

“Anyone affected by a crime or act of violence will be treated with dignity and respect and has the means to notify a designated university department that will connect them to support and counseling to deal with the trauma,” Rooney wrote.

If anyone is in need of sexual assault resources, they can call the Loyola Sexual Assault Advocacy line at 773-494-3810. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is also available 24/7 at 800-656-4673.

Loyola students can report sexual misconduct to Title IX at 773-508-3733 or use the university’s EthicsLine reporting hotline, Loyola’s system for dealing with different complaints.

This article was reported in collaboration with Loyola’s journalism research methods course.

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Mary Norkol
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