Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rural Idaho sheriff draws criticism for saying most rapes are 'actually consensual sex'

A rural Idaho sheriff has gotten into hot water for telling a local television station that he objects to new state legislation that tracks sexual assault kits, asserting that most rape claims in his county are false, Tom Holm reports for the Post Register in Idaho Falls. Craig Rowland, sheriff of Bingham County, said in the interview, “They need to let us decide if we’re going to send the kit and when we send the kits in. Because the majority of our rapes, not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do, but the majority of our rapes that are called in, are actually consensual sex." He said a typical rape claim in Bingham County (Wikipedia map) is "a 17-year-old girl who had consensual sex with her boyfriend but didn’t know how to tell her parents."

The bill "would require the state forensic lab to test every kit submitted to them and would set up a timeline for law enforcement to submit the kits, instead of leaving it up to individual agencies as it’s done now," Holm writes. "Rowland has said he wants to be in charge of when his office sends a kit in for testing because too many rapes end up being falsely reported."

Rowland, who said he has no plans to give in to calls for him to resign or retire, claims he misspoke during the interview. He told Holm, “I, by no means, meant to belittle victims. . . . Every single rape that is called into Dispatch is investigated thoroughly, usually initially by a patrol officer and then by a detective . . . to the full extent of his or her ability."

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