ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Two Rockford Police officers were charged with sexual assault this week, Officer Eric Thurmond and Officer Daniel Basile.
Erica Engler, the clinical director for Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, said, “Unfortunately, sexual abuse and assault is an ongoing problem in our community.”
One in three women has been sexually abused in her lifetime, and about 85 percent of those victims has been assaulted by someone they know, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It can be a very scary thing to report, that somebody has either been sexually harassing you, or sexually abused or assaulted you, when they are someone in a position of power,” Engler said.
Engler says attackers often build relationships with their victims by becoming someone they can trust.
“When a sexual assault or abuse happens, it can be very confusing for the survivor, because it’s so different from what they knew or what they thought about that person,” she said.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross says she deals with a significant amount of sex crime cases, including those in which a victim is assaulted by someone in a position of authority.
“When the victim is sexually assaulted by someone in power and authority, there’s a level of betrayal and mistrust that the victim may experience,” she said. “[In] eight of ten cases they looked at, the victim actually knew or was acquainted with their perpetrator.”
Engler believes there is a way to stop the abuse.
“They need to receive [prison] time so that they’re not out there, offending again against other people,” she said.
Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, at 4990 E State Street, serves Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties.
If you or someone you know needs help, they have a 24/7 crisis hotline at 815-636-9811.
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