Why the surge in reported rape cases in Shreveport?

By Jeff Ferrell - bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The reported kidnapping and rape of a 14-year old girl walking to her school bus stop this week becomes just the latest high profile rape case in the area.  We wanted to go beyond recent statistics on the increase in reported rapes to find out what's really happening here.

Just last month, KSLA News 12 told you about the dramatic jump in the number of rapes reported in the month of August in Shreveport.  It came to 24 cases.  That's compared to seven in July and seven for August 2008.  "Number one, you know you can't take statistics from just one month and then extrapolate from that,"  explained Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland.

And number two, added Holland, there's a world of difference from reports of rape, to whether rape is actually happening more.  "In fact, I really don't think that we have an increase at all," said Holland.

He explained that the typical spike in rape reports happens both at the start and end of each school year.  Holland continued, "in reality, it was consensual sex they were engaging in and the complaint comes from parents because the parents are not told by their child that the sex was consensual."

Holland insisted he has no reason at all, at this point, to suspect that's what happened in the Shreveport bus stop kidnapping and rape case.  The 14-year old girl told police a man stopped his car as she was walking to her bus stop just before 7 am Wednesday morning at Midway and Hearne Avenues.  She was just a block away at Midway and Orla, when he reportedly grabbed her and threw her into his car before driving to a home in west Shreveport where he attacked her.

Police also told us that the victim described how the suspect then drove her around for about 45-minutes before forcing her out at the McDonald's restaurant near Jewella Avenue and Greenwood Road in Shreveport, where she then called her mother by cell phone.

And neighbors like Elizabeth Johnson, are also taking the case very seriously.  "I hope they catch whoever did it because I got a daughter and I don't want it to happen to her."

And crime is no stranger to this area.  Just ask fellow neighbor Stephanie Rayburn who lives at the corner of the reported abduction site.  She added, "I was mugged in '97 at the corner store at 10 am."

Shreveport Police said there's another factor to all of this.  When you have arrests in local, high-profile rape cases you typically see more reports of rape from the public.  And that's exactly the reason Sgt. Jim Taliaferro gave for the surge in rape reports for August.  "The victims feel that it's no longer, they no longer have to be a nameless victim, that they can actually feel comfortable coming forth."

Despite those reassurances, neighbors near Midway and Hearne Avenues will rest much easier once police make an arrest in this latest rape case.  And if you have any information call crimestoppers at (318) 673-7373.

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