54 sex assaults reported in Marshalltown

One in every four women are sexually assaulted.

One in every nine men are sexually assaulted.

Last year 54 sexual assaults were reported to the Marshalltown Police Department; 39 of those were children.

“To me 54 cases in a year is a lot,” said Sadie Weekley, sexual assault and domestic violence detective at the Marshalltown Police Department. “That is actually more than one a week. I think it’s a lot but I don’t think we’re above average for the state.”

Mike Tupper, Marshalltown Police chief, said sexual assault is a common problem that all police departments in the state deal with on a far too regular basis.

“In order to stop sexual assault, we all need to work for social change,” Tupper said. “We all need to be more vocal in our fight against sexual assault and in our support of survivors.”

April is sexual assault awareness month.

Lynn Koch, Marshall County sexual assault services coordinator for Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support, said an upcoming awareness event is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m., May 10, at the Marshall County Courthouse. The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event puts men in high heels to raise awareness and proceeds from the walk will benefit ACCESS.

Koch said the most important thing is to provide support the victims and bring out awareness.

“Sexual assault is happening in our communities,” Koch said. “It’s important to bring that awareness and light to show support for victims and highlight services.”

The more awareness we bring out the more victims will feel more confident in reporting it, Koch said.

“There’s a misconception that these reports can be false sometimes or there’s a high number of false reports, that’s definitely not true,” Weekley said. “Sometimes we just can’t prove the case. We are able to make charges but I believe that false reports are very few and far in between.”

Koch agrees.

“The most important thing anyone can do is to believe the victim,” Koch said. “False reporting is extremely low. Victims are very reluctant to come forward because they fear so much and if they have on any level come forward they deserve to be believed.”

If a victim needs support ACCESS offers free and confidential services, Koch said.

“We just want to be that support system to walk the victim through their aspects of healing,” Koch said. “We have availability to meet with clients for peer counseling.”

The ACCESS crisis care line is 1-800-203-3488.