April 11, 2007 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, issued the following statement today regarding the dropped charges in the Duke University lacrosse investigation.
“ We are satisfied with the Attorney General’s conclusion that the evidence does not support going forward with the charges,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “Since the initial allegations, we have urged the public to withhold judgment until the legal process had a chance to work. While that process didn’t work as well, or as quickly, as it should have in this case, the Attorney General brought the case to an appropriate conclusion.”
“We hope that [this]...will encourage rape victims to come forward and report their assault.It will be a great tragedy if this case discourages victims from coming forward and reporting.”
Although much progress has been made in recent years to reduce the stigma of rape and gradually raise reporting rates, nationally publicized sexual assault cases can significantly influence public opinion. That can result in victims being afraid they won’t be believed, and may discourage some from coming forward.
Addressing that concern, Berkowitz continued, “We hope that seeing how seriously investigators pursued the allegation will encourage rape victims to come forward and report their assault. It will be a great tragedy if this case discourages victims from coming forward and reporting their attack to police.”
Victims of sexual assault can seek free, confidential help through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE). To report a sexual assault to the police, call 911 in most areas.