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Sexual Assaults Increase After Hurricane Harvey

Published: Oct 31, 2017 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Sexual assault is very often perpetrated by family members, romantic partners, and acquaintances. However, this form of violence is also committed by strangers, particularly during and after natural disasters. In all of its forms, sexual assault can be a crime of opportunity. During an emergency when individuals have been thrown from their routines and law enforcement is focused on evacuation, offenders may take advantage of the situation and sexually assault someone.

A rise in sexual violence appears to have been an issue following Hurricane Katrina, and is once again of particular concern following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Unfortunately, fear of a rise in sexual assault may lead to false accusations and wrongful arrests due to mistakes of identity.

If you are being accused of sexual assault after Hurricane Harvey, contact an experienced and trusted Houston sexual assault lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away.

Call attorney Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free case consultation.

NSVRC Sought to Record Sexual Assaults Following Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, which was quickly followed by Hurricane Rita, led to mass devastation in states along the Gulf Coast. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), many law enforcement groups, and victim advocacy groups were immediately concerned about the risk of sexual assault for thousands of individuals who were displaced and living in shelters and evacuation sites. To gain information about the increased risk, the NSVRC created an anonymous survey to document reports of sexual violence during and following the hurricanes.

Forty-seven cases of sexual assault were reported during and after Hurricane Katrina. Of the victims, 93.2 percent were female, and 95 percent were disaster victims. When identifying their attackers, 38.6 percent states they were assaulted by strangers, and 29.6 percent did not specify whether it was a stranger or known individual. Twenty-five percent identified an acquaintance as the perpetrator, while family members or current or former intimate partners were identified 9.1 percent of the time.

One of the most important factors determined by the survey was that just above 30 percent of the sexual assaults took place in evacuation sites or shelters. Nearly 13 percent took place in an open area, and more than 10 percent took place at a public building that was not a shelter. These statistics are alarming. They signal that people are at risk for sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape at places where they are seeking assistance and safety during a natural disaster.

Why the Risk of Sexual Assault May Increase at Shelters

There are a variety of reasons why the risk of sexual violence may increase at shelters. Many shelters and evacuation sites during and after hurricanes are large and become crowded. Entire stadiums and other expansive buildings fill with individuals. These overpopulated shelters are typically poorly lit and have several semi-private areas. Additionally, many shelters are under-staffed or staff members and volunteers are poorly trained. When supervision is adequate, staff members and volunteers may not know how to address a situation involving sexual violence.

Fear May Lead to False Accusations and Wrongful Arrests

Law enforcement officers, aid workers, and volunteers who have a heightened awareness of the potential increase in sexual assault after a natural disaster may inaccurately report incidents, potentially causing you to be arrested for an offense you did not commit. In the confusion that takes place during and after a hurricane, law enforcement agencies and other authorities are bound to make mistakes. While victims of sexual assault deserve full justice at all times, the environment during a state of emergency could lead to you being falsely accused of sexual assault or rape.

A Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you have been arrested for a sex crime that allegedly took place during a natural disaster or state of emergency, contact an experienced and trusted sex crimes defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett as soon as possible. Attorney Ned Barnett understands that you and your family may be facing devastating circumstances, and the last thing you need is to deal with are false allegations of a serious crime.

To learn how The Law Offices of Ned Barnett can help you face wrongful sexual assault allegations, call (713) 222-6767 to schedule your initial, confidential consultation. Attorney Ned Barnett will protect your rights and aggressively fight for the best possible outcome in your case.