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Child Sex Abuse Difficult to Prosecute


Very few cases of child rape or sodomy ever go to trial. And those that do, more often than not, put the victim in direct confrontation with someone who has betrayed their trust. WHQR’s Bob Workmon reports this presents an almost unimaginable burden on children who have suffered an assault.

Children under age 16 comprise about 80 percent of the case load for sexual assaults being prosecuted by the North Carolina District Attorney’s office in New Hanover County. At this month’s meeting of the Sexual Assault Response Team, Assistant D.A. Lance Oehrlein talked about the many challenges children face heading into court, particularly from adults who choose to believe that a child is more inclined to fib, or that someone in a position of authority would never commit such crimes.      

“But then when you get in front of a jury, they just don’t want to accept that that type of crime happens in their neighborhood. You know, by their pastor, by their soccer coach, by their next-door neighbor.”

And it’s not only the community around the child that is often unbelieving, but their families as well, often because the perpetrator is a member of the family. At this time, the District Attorney’s office is prosecuting about 45 sexual assault cases.

April is Sexual Abuse Activism Month. More information about the Rape Crisis Center and special events over the next week is available at www.supportrcc.org.