Baltimore unveils hotline for rape victims

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld announced the creation of a new hotline for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.


The hotline is meant to connect with services and report past incidents or mistreatment that may have occurred while reporting a sexual assault crime. The number to call is 443-279-0379.


The hotline will be operated by Turnaround Inc., which the city said is an established sex abuse and domestic violence center. It'll be staffed by experienced advocates who can connect victims and survivors with supportive services and counseling.


The hotline will begin operation Wednesday and will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.


The announcement came after FBI data was released Monday showing that over the past five years, more than 30 percent of the rape cases investigated by detectives each year in the city have been deemed unfounded. That's the largest percentage in the country and about five times the national average.


Rawlings-Blake said women are often ashamed to confront their attackers and that the city needs to ensure victims feel safe reporting incidents to police. Bealefeld said his department will evaluate the leadership assigned to the unit that investigates rape.


"I think this hotline is an excellent opportunity for Turnaround to help us identify and get those women to come forward and work in an environment where we can hopefully restore their confidence and trust," he said.


There were 684 rapes in Baltimore reported to the FBI in 1995 and just 158 last year, a decline of nearly 80 percent. Nationally, rapes have fallen 8 percent over the same  period.


(To read original article, visit this WBAL link.)

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