Rockford advocate shares insight after report of a potential serial rapist

Local News

Four rapes in Rockford’s near northwest side could be connected.

Rockford Police are investigating a series of sexual assaults in which a suspect has broken into homes and sexually assaulted the victims.

“I’m grateful that we have given the community some notice,” said Manager of the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation co-founder Jennifer Cacciapaglia. “This is definitely an all hands on deck situation for city of Rockford Police Department. Their priority is to determine who this is and bring them into custody as soon as possible.”

Police are looking for a suspect they believe is involved in four sexual assaults over the past several months.

The most recent incident occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, December 12th.

Police say there is no indication that the victims knew the suspect.

“I think we all have to be aware of our surroundings,” said Cacciapaglia. “We have to watch our surroundings going to and from our cars, and going to and from our places of business. We just have to be very aware.”

Victim advocates say there is a significant amount of trauma for survivors after a sexual assault. Being understanding and providing support for those survivors can go a long way.

“We have to be very, very cautious about determining and overlaying our opinions on how someone would respond or should’ve responded in a situation like that. Everyone responds differently in the moment.”

Experts say the way to stop sexual assault is to teach consent, adding we as a community need to focus on interrupting the trauma of young offenders so they don’t become sexual predators.

“Talk to our young boys and men about why that is not an acceptable way to behave.”

Cacciapaglia says it’s important survivors tap into local resources and know they’re not alone.

“Nothing you did caused this. This is not your fault, there is nothing that you could have or should have done differently. Please seek out the resources when you are ready.”

Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling is here to help. The organization has a 24/7 Crisis Hotline for those in Winnebago, Boone & Ogle Counties at 815-636-9811.

Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Rockford Police at 815-966-2900 or Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867.

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