Alaska has long led the nation in sexual assaults, but it’s the state’s rural areas where children are being molested at the most alarming rates, says a report quoted by the Associated Press. In nearly 1,000 cases over two years, the average age of victims was 16 while the average age of alleged abusers was 29. In four out of five cases, the suspects were relatives or friends or acquaintances.
The numbers are unacceptable, troopers said at a press conference yesterday. “Each of us has a role in ending sexual violence in Alaska,” said trooper Col. Audie Holloway. “We need to think into the future.” Statewide figures for 2003-2004 show there were 89 rapes per 100,000 people, almost three times the national average of 32 rapes per 100,000. Steve Arlow, a troopers’ commander, said sexual assault crimes account for the bulk of troopers’ work. Arlow was startled by the age difference between the youngest victims and their attackers: In 13 percent of the cases, the victims were younger than 13 years old while their suspected abusers were at least 31.