To the Editor: Martin clarifies comments

This letter is in response to the Daily Independent editorial and a News Review article on “crime trends.”

I would like to clarify my position on the rape statistics discussion during a recent budget meeting. First, I have a beautiful wife, daughter and granddaughter, and I deplore any form of sexual misconduct against women, or men for that matter.

Concerning the meeting, I did not initiate the topic, I was simply following up on alarming stats presented by our police chief, followed by several questions by a member of the audience. My concerns dealt with clarification of statistics and in no way were intended to minimize sexual assault of any kind. I was trying to determine the cause of this significant jump so that we could try to find a solution.

Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Stephens during the meeting stated that rape is rape no matter what, and I entirely agree. She also asked if the “#MeToo” movement could be encouraging victims to come forward, leading to increased reporting. A follow-up FBI article confirmed this fact. According to RPD Chief Jed McLaughlin at the meeting, of that 31 [reported rapes in 2018] you have to remember that a large portion of those are unfounded … but we still have to report it as such … it’s a high percentage of people meeting people at establishments and the next day coming in and reporting the assault.

Another point to consider is that high stats also reflect the excellent job that the Women’s Center-High Desert, Inc., and the hospital do in making sure that all rape cases are reported. Many other communities are lax in reporting.

After the meeting I asked the chief to further explain. He said that historically rape was defined as forceful carnal knowledge. In 2013, however, the California DOJ and FBI redefined the term, making it more inclusive of many other sexual assaults as well. As a result, the statistics for rape naturally increased significantly nationwide, including in Ridgecrest. An FBI article shows an almost 20-percent increase in reported rapes across the country since the new definition took effect.

After the meeting I contacted the Women’s Center and spoke at length to CEO?Carol Beecroft and Director of Client Services Karin Stone to discuss this issue further. They also stated that minors/custody issues, and other medical/mental health issues are also included in this large number.

As a result of all discussions, I asked McLaughlin to please make sure that next year’s slides reflect these suggestions providing a greater degree of public clarification. In conclusion, if any of my brainstorming comments during the meeting were misconstrued, my apologies. My comments were intended to reflect a need for clarification, not minimization.

Regardless of any statistics, one rape is too many. If anyone has an issue to report, call the Women’s Center at 760-371-1969 (office) or 760-375-0745 (24-hour hotline).

Wallace Martin

Story First Published: 2019-06-21