VERIFY: Are rapes up in Atlanta?

We set to find out.

ATLANTA – New data from the Atlanta Police Department shows rapes are up 106 percent from 2016, however, the data also comes with an asterisk.

On paper, it shows that Atlanta Police documenting 97 rapes in 2017, a number that is up from 47, this time in 2016—equaling a 106 percent increase.

The data, however, comes with an important footnote telling the story.

This asterisk reads: “The FBI revised its definition of rape to include additional categories.”

Old definition: “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

New definition: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

"We got a call last week from a person that didn't read the footnotes and they was blown out of their chair by the significant increase in our rapes," Atlanta Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Warren Pickard, said. 

While the new definition was released in 2013, departments were not required to follow the changes—only offered as a suggestion. But Pickard said the APD made the decision that the new definition made more sense to truly track its crime stats. 

“The record department took it on to make the change. As you know, the FBI pushes out guidelines," Pickard explained. "They’re never telling you to do this in a particular way, they offer guidelines. We think it is the best way to go, especially in the climate of the nation we are in now; it has to be opened up to broader sexes.” 

Those categories include a broader definition of rape and the sexual offenses counted as rape, and no longer only includes females as victims. The FBI’s definition APD used through 2016 did not mention males as rape victims.

"[It] would be some type of assault, or battery to some degree. But it wouldn't be classified as a rape,” Pickard said about men who were assaulted in the past. “It will be classified as a rape now."

Under the new definition, rapes are up.

  • 106 percent from last year
  • 116 percent compared to 2015
  • 131 percent compared to 2009

Right now, the data shows 97 rapes in Atlanta this year.

But under the old definition 36 of those incidents would not have been counted as rape.

Using the old definition, rapes are still up, but not by 106 percent.

  • 30 percent from last year
  • 36 percent compared to 2015
  • 45 percent compared to 2009

APD crime report

As a department, Pickard said, they are committed to trying to stop incidents of rape as much as possible.

“We are particularly concerned about our rapes," he said. "We think the programs we are doing with our universities, with our alternate transportation such as Lyft and Uber, just putting basic common sense things out there will help minimize incidents from happening, and we think that will have an impact on our numbers.” 

11Alive verified that rapes are in fact up from several recent years in Atlanta, but not an increase of more than 100 percent.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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