Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Rape Ranking Skewed? Jacksonville Rated as Dangerous City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Rape Ranking Skewed? Jacksonville Rated as Dangerous City

Article excerpt

It was 5:30 a.m. and a 26-year-old woman was walking to work at

Jacksonville's Methodist Medical Center.

Suddenly, a man grabbed her, put his hand over her mouth,

dragged her at knife point into an alley and raped her.

On June 9, she became the 516th female this year to report

being raped in Jacksonville. Friday, a jury convicted a

previously convicted rapist in her attack.

The rape occurred in a city Ladies' Home Journal says is one of

10 U.S. cities in which women are most likely to be raped, based

on a study of the nation's 200 largest cities.

The magazine ranked Jacksonville the seventh-most-dangerous

city, based on FBI crime reports.

Two members of a local rape task force had mixed feelings about

the study, mainly because rape is often underreported and

Jacksonville rape prevention experts have been encouraging women

to report the crime to police. The task force, formed 17 months

ago in response to a Florida Times-Union series questioning rape

prosecution in Jacksonville, is scheduled to release its

recommendations in January.

"I think that it [the magazine study] indicates that women in

Jacksonville report rape," said Debbi Thomas, program manager

with the city's Victim Services Division. "We've got our hot

line, we've got our medical response teams, we've got

counselors, advocates, support groups. All free for victims.

Jacksonville does have a rape problem. [But] every city has a

rape problem. I encourage all victims to report."

The magazine's November issue ranked the cities based on the

number of rapes reported by police to the FBI. The FBI's 1996

Uniform Crime Reports lists Jacksonville as having 681 rapes,

about the same number as in 1994 and in 1995, despite increasing

population.

Police found out about the June 9 rape immediately after it

happened.

"After the rape, she [the victim] ran to the hospital

hysterical, crying, saying that she was raped," said Assistant

State Attorney Clemente Inclan.

Within minutes, Jacksonville Police Officer M.D. Richardson

found Alton Huff, 38, a half mile from the scene. …

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