State offers new look at felony sex offenses
A new report offers a demographic overview of Alaska’s ongoing scourge of sex crimes, including a breakdown of last year’s felony cases statewide.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety released its third annual report Friday on felony-level sex offenses across Alaska, covering cases in 2017. According to the data, compiled from police agencies statewide, reported offenses fell 4 percent – but the tally of victims rose 27 percent.
Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said one potential factor behind the rise in victims is cases in which one suspect commits and offense against multiple victims. Another factor, she said, is better data on total victims provided by law enforcement.
“With it only being three years, people are just getting better and better at the reporting,” Peters said.
On a regional basis, Western Alaska reported the highest per-capita rate of offenses – just over twice the statewide rate – while Southcentral Alaska reported the lowest, 77 percent lower than the statewide rate. Anchorage, however, reported an offense rate higher than the statewide average.
The victims of the reported cases were overwhelmingly female, making up 89 percent of the 1,498 victims statewide. Many were under Alaska’s age of consent, 16; although the median age of female victims was 19, the most common age was 15. Male victims’ median age was 13, with their most common age 4.
Almost all of the 1,455 suspects in last year’s cases, 96 percent, were male. Suspects’ median age was 30, with 18 the most common age.
Alaska Natives and American Indians were 46 percent of victims and 45 percent of suspects, although they make up 20 percent of the statewide population.
“In 59 percent of incidents, victims reported being assaulted by a member of their own race,” state officials wrote.
Almost all suspects were known to their victims, including 99 percent involving victims under age 10, 100 percent involving victims 11 to 17 and 95 percent for adult victims. Victims under 10 most often reported being assaulted by a parent or other family member, while older victims most often reported being assaulted by an acquaintance.
Three-quarters of the incidents occurred at a home or other residence, based on data in the report. Some 88 percent didn’t involve the use of a weapon.
Among cases which involved apparent violations of state statute, some 61 percent were classified as potential sexual assaults, with another 30 percent considered sexual abuse of a minor. Four percent each would be considered child pornography and other offenses, with just 1 percent classified as sex trafficking or prostitution.
The data for the sex-offenses report was collected under different methodologies than the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data from Alaska or the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center’s Alaska Victimization Survey, state officials said, meaning numbers from the reports should not be directly compared.
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