Reader questions lack of reporting when it comes to sexual assault cases

To the Editor:

I just read the Annual Report for the Saugeen Shores Police Services for 2022. It doesn’t appear that the 2023 Annual Report is yet available.

I noticed that in the years 2021 and 2022 there were 18 sexual assaults reported to Saugeen Shores Police each of those two years.

The number 18 is only for the ones that were actually reported to Police. There are many more that have gone unreported that could allow the same perpetrator to commit even more crimes of this nature against others in the Municipality.

However, I can only recall one sexual assault being reported in the news and that one occurred late last year on the Saugeen Shores Rail Trail.

I am aware of at least one other that was reported to police last year. However, it was never reported in any of the local media be it newspapers, radio or television.

To me, 18 sexual assaults reported to police a year in a Municipality the size of Saugeen Shores is a horrendous number.

How many sexual assaults occurred in 2023 in Saugeen Shores that no one is aware of, due to no reporting of these crimes in the media?

There is clearly a major problem in this Municipality.

This problem is exacerbated by a lack of reporting of these incidents to inform the general public and women in particular.

This is National Women’s Day.

I expect local news like the Saugeen Times to do a much better job at reporting of this social ill in our Municipality.

Ian Gentles

Editor’s NOTE:

As I am sure you can appreciate, sexual assault cases are very difficult to report on as they are very sensitive in nature, and may be protected by publication bans.

After a consultation with our local Police Chief, it is explained that posting of sexual assault cases is contemplated only in unique circumstances where the risk to the public outweighs the rights of the accused.  If it is an isolated incident, or a case where there is no risk to the public, there is no need to report on the details and risk the chance of adding to the stress or trauma of the victim.

As for a perceived ‘lack of reporting’, the media only has the information provided by police, so if it’s not shared, there is no way of knowing and, if not reported, there is usually a good reason – to respect the dignity and privacy of the victim.