Law professor: More than 1 million rapes unreported in official U.S. crime statistics

Friday, March 07, 2014

LAWRENCE — More than 1 million rape cases have gone undocumented across the United States during the past two decades, according to research by a University of Kansas law professor. The chronic under-reporting happened during what was widely considered a “great decline” in violent crime.

Corey Rayburn Yung, associate professor of law, has authored “How to Lie with Rape Statistics: America’s Hidden Rape Crisis.” The article, which will appear in the Iowa Law Review, details Yung’s review of crime data from 1995 to 2012, which shows that by conservative estimates, nearly 1.2 million rapes disappeared from the official record. Yung analyzed data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, which collects data from nearly every police department in the country, and is commonly used by policy makers, media and law enforcement as a picture of crime prevalence in the United States.

Yung has taught and conducted research in rape and crime law and noticed inconsistencies in the number of rapes reported in a number of cities. Raw numbers of rapes were much lower in some cities than raw numbers of murders, which raised red flags as murder is a less common crime. Yung then learned of media investigations in Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis and Philadelphia that documented cases of police departments under-reporting rape statistics.

“Originally I was trying to reconcile why the data was showing such anomalies,” Yung said of the impetus of his paper. “Then I found out about the four cities with documented cases of under-reported rapes, and the more I looked the more red flags there were. There were a number of cities where the numbers didn’t make sense.”

In all, 46 cities, or about 22 percent of the 210 studied police departments responsible for populations of at least 100,000 people, had “substantial irregularities in their rape data, indicating considerable undercounting from 1995 to 2012,” Yung wrote.

“Many people have an incentive for crime to be down on paper,” Yung said of the reason why rape numbers were under-reported.

Pointing to reduced crime numbers, politicians are often elected or re-elected, policy makers make decisions on police funding, officers are promoted, communities promote themselves as safe, and numerous other decisions are made. There is intense pressure, politically and socially, for police departments to show they are reducing crime.

“From a personnel perspective, every officer has a reason to downplay the numbers,” Yung said.

Rape happens to be one of the easiest crimes to under-report, for a variety of reasons. There is a very low conviction rate — only about 2 percent — for all rapes. That manifests itself in fewer cases coming to trial as they are viewed as harder to win, and less time and resources being invested in investigations. There is also often very little corroborating evidence that a rape occurred. In crimes such as murder there tends to be a litany of forensic evidence, and it’s obvious a life has been lost. In less severe crimes such as auto theft, there is an insurance claim that must be dealt with. In the case of rape, there is often not a rape kit, and an alarmingly high percentage of the time when there is one, it is never processed and any evidence it might contain is not used as part of an investigation, Yung said. In cases where drugs or alcohol made consent impossible, drug tests are often not performed in time, and even when they, are they don’t always test for all relevant drugs.

“If you wanted to manipulate a crime rate statistic, that’s the easiest one,” Yung said of rape statistics.

Yung’s article states police in the undercounting cities used three difficult-to-detect methods to manipulate rape statistics: Designating complaints as “unfounded,” which required little or no investigation; classifying incidents as a “lesser offense"; and failing to create a written report that a victim made a rape complaint. In addition to the four cities exposed by media reports, Atlanta, Dallas, Milwaukee, Mobile, Ala., Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C., submitted statistically dubious rape statistics in 92 of their 108 total reports to the FBI during the study period, Yung wrote.

By including the estimated number of rape incidents reported to police but not the FBI, Yung conservatively estimated that approximately 796,213 to 1,145,309 rapes were not included in the Uniform Crime Report from 1995 to 2012. The analysis indicates that the study period included at least 15 of the 18 highest rates of rape since the Uniform Crime Report began including rape data in 1930.

Rape complaints that are not investigated not only fail to serve justice for victims, they lead to more victims and impunity for criminals, Yung argues. Research has suggested that as many as 90 percent of rapes are committed by serial rapists or individuals who have committed the crime more than once.

“That gets validated when they’re not investigated,” Yung said of the perpetrators. “They can do it again and again. Police are essentially empowering rapists by not pursuing cases.”

There is little recourse for rape victims in many cases. If their complaint is determined “unfounded” or is never investigated, it is very difficult to take any sort of action without surrendering their anonymity. On top of that, most victims are never notified that their case is not being investigated.

While the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is highly influential, it’s nature also contributes to the frequent under-reporting of rape. Police departments offer all information included in the report voluntarily, and there is little to no disincentive for not including complete and accurate statistics while there is overwhelming incentive to under-report, Yung said.

The implications of under-reporting are dire. Many rapists are never convicted, much less prosecuted or even investigated, leading to more rapes and more victims, Yung said. When left unchecked, the incidents can escalate to further violent crimes and even murder, which have troubling moral implications.

“Society has an obligation to stop rape and prosecute rapists. The current practices are incredibly far from that basic precept. What is worse is that the extent of rape in America has been covered up— rape victims have been denied basic dignity, so that some police could manipulate statistics to simply achieve artificially designated crime benchmarks,” Yung wrote.

While reports of a “great decline” in rape in the United States were untrue, the crime grew to crisis proportions that should urge everyone from city level government to federal policy makers to act. Yung suggests the FBI expand oversight of data submission for the Uniform Crime Report and training of police officers in using it. The bureau should also take action when departments report unprecedented decreases in rape while murder rates spike, a step it currently doesn’t take.

“Rape has not received significant priority in law enforcement, as crime data has lessened the perceived urgency for action. That can and should be changed with budgetary, resource and personnel increases from the federal and/or state authorities,” Yung wrote. “Local governments and police departments should allocate more of their existing officers to sexual assault investigations instead of low-level, nonviolent crimes. Further, police should implement secondary review of rape complaints to ensure that officers are thoroughly investigating cases labeled as 'unfounded' or similar internal department designations that have in the past disguised large numbers of rape cases.”

KU students advance to national finals in transactional law competition

Friday, March 07, 2014

LAWRENCE – A team of University of Kansas School of Law students will compete in the finals of the National Transactional LawMeet next month after winning at the Chicago regional round.

The law school fielded two teams in the competition, which offers a moot court experience for aspiring transactional lawyers. Jay Berryman, of Meade, and Kevin Wempe, of Topeka, won for the buyer’s side in Chicago, and Anna Kimbrell, of Lawrence, and Rachel Martin, of Kansas City, Mo., earned the prize for best overall draft agreement at the Midwestern regional in Kansas City.

This is the first year KU has participated in the competition.

“The LawMeet’s drafting and negotiation process is very reflective of what corporate attorneys do in practice, so this experience is invaluable to me and one that most transactional attorneys did not have the opportunity to engage in while in law school,” said Berryman, who will graduate in May, then begin his career practicing corporate transactional law at Polsinelli PC in Kansas City, Mo.

Teams were assigned to represent either buyers or sellers of a business and were required to draft an agreement covering a disputed issue, mark up the opposing side’s counterdraft and negotiate a resolution. Teams from 84 law schools met at seven regional sites last Friday to conduct the negotiations. Two teams from each region (one buyer and one seller) advanced to the final round to be held April 3-4 in New York. 

“The negotiations were very professional,” said Wempe, who is set to graduate in May and will work in public finance with Gilmore & Bell PC in Kansas City, Mo. “We decided beforehand we would avoid being adversarial, if possible, and instead take the approach that we were there to facilitate our client’s wishes and move the transaction forward rather than bicker with the opposition.”

Competition judges evaluate which team most adeptly combines its lawyering skills, drafting, marking-up and negotiating techniques with their knowledge of corporate and other facets of business law and business sense to develop innovative solutions to negotiate a draft agreement.

For its Chicago victory, KU bested teams from the University of Colorado, Ohio State University, Temple University, Northwestern University and elsewhere.

KU law alumni Ken Lynn, Class of 1981, and Kelley Sears, Class of 1974, coached the teams in preparation for the competition, with assistance from Webb Hecker, professor of law.

In wake of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, KU tribal law conference to explore Indian Child Welfare Act

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

LAWRENCE – Legal experts and tribal government officials will grapple with the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent decision implicating the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) at the University of Kansas School of Law’s 18th annual Tribal Law & Government Conference this week in Lawrence.  

The conference — "The Indian Child Welfare Act: Past, Present & Future" — will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the Burge Union. Registration has reached capacity and is now closed. Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Mindie Paget at mpaget@ku.edu in advance of the conference.

One of the most sweeping statutes in federal Indian law, the ICWA was designed to respond to the longstanding practice of removing Indian children from their homes and communities and placing them in boarding schools and foster care. The Supreme Court’s consideration of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in June 2013, which pitted the rights of adoptive parents against those of a child’s biological American Indian father, sparked renewed interest in the law and its current applications.

“The Indian Child Welfare Act is especially timely today given the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, associate professor of law and director of KU’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “The KU conference will be one of the first to explore the ramifications of this decision.”

Dean Stacy Leeds of the University of Arkansas School of Law will open the conference with a presentation on the law’s origins and application, followed by an exploration of the Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl by attorney Mark Fiddler, who represented the adoptive parents in the case, and Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo. The biological father at issue in the Supreme Court case is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Attorney Russ Brien, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation attorney Vivien Olsen and professor Colette Routel of the William Mitchell College of Law will discuss the future of the ICWA. Professor Kate Fort of the Michigan State University College of Law will close the conference with an examination of the law’s ethical considerations.

Six hours of CLE credit are approved in Kansas and Missouri. 

Law school ranks 20th for grads making partner at nation’s largest law firms

Monday, March 03, 2014

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law ranks in the top 25 percent of law schools sending graduates to the nation’s largest law firms and the top 10 percent of schools whose alumni were promoted to partner at those firms, according to the National Law Journal’s annual report on “Go-To Law Schools.”

KU ranked 50th among all U.S. law schools and 17th among public law schools in percentage of new graduates hired at NLJ 250 firms. It ranked 20th among all U.S. law schools and sixth among public law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner.

“Employers recognize that KU Law graduates are well-prepared and possess an impressive work ethic,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “The fact that our students pay one of the lowest tuitions among all schools in this ranking underscores the incredible value of a KU Law education.”

KU has the third-lowest tuition among schools in the report, with students paying nearly $37,000 less per year than students at the most expensive school on the list.

The National Law Journal ranked the top 50 law schools by the percentage of 2013 law school graduates who took jobs at NLJ 250 firms — the nation’s largest by headcount as identified in the Journal’s annual survey. The Journal also identified the law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner during 2013, and it compared how each law school’s cost compares to its large firm hiring record.

The Journal surveys the country’s largest law firms about which schools produced their new class of associates. The rankings are not based on data reported by law schools.

 

Media Advisory: Author of book on militarization of U.S. police forces, victim of home raid to speak at KU

Friday, February 28, 2014

CONTACT: Mark Kind, 913-406-7113, acskulaw@gmail.com, American Constitution Society Chapter President, University of Kansas School of Law Chapter

WHO: Radley Balko, author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” and Addie Harte, attorney, former CIA employee, and victim of SWAT-style home raid by militarized police force on false suspicions of marijuana production

WHAT: Eye-opening discussion of the increasing militarization of U.S. police forces at the local, state and national levels, and the erosion of rights in the 3rd and 4th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

WHERE: University of Kansas School of Law, 104 Green Hall, 1535 W. 15th St.

WHEN: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday March 4

SPONSORS: School of Law student chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society; and Morgan Pilate LLC, Kansas City, Mo.

Radley Balko is an acclaimed author and columnist who writes a regular online column for the Washington Post. A former policy analyst for the Cato Institute, Balko writes on drug policy, police misconduct and civil liberties. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Playboy, Time, the Los Angeles Times and Slate. He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC and National Public Radio.

Addie Harte is a Kansas City-area resident, an attorney and former CIA employee. She and husband Robert Harte have two children. Although they have no connections of any kind to illegal drugs, police raided their home in 2012 on an unsupported suspicion that they were growing cannabis. In 2014, Harte has testified in the Missouri and Kansas statehouses on law enforcement legislation, including a Kansas proposal to open up local police records concerning the evidence used to obtain search and arrest warrants.     

Lawyer continuing art-recovery legacy of the ‘Monuments Men’ to speak at KU Edwards Campus

Friday, February 28, 2014

OVERLAND PARK – While the “Monuments Men” took the first crucial steps in recovering cultural treasures stolen by the Nazis, the fight to return artworks to the victims and their families goes on nearly 70 years after the end of World War II. 

Raymond Dowd, a partner in the New York firm of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP, will speak next week at the University of Kansas about ongoing efforts led by him and others to secure the return of these masterworks, including his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. “Murder, Mystery and Masterpieces: The Legal Implications of World War II Stolen Art” will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, at the Conference Center in the BEST Building on the Edwards Campus, 12604 Quivira Road, Overland Park. The program is free and open to the public.  

“When you’re in law school, you dream about the chance to do this kind of work – not just fighting for victims but at the same time undoing some small part of a much greater evil. The chance to have Mr. Dowd be our inaugural speaker is a great way for us to launch our new chapter while giving back to the community,” said third-year KU law student Katherine Marples, president of the KU Law Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Dowd will also present a continuing legal education program for Kansas City-area lawyers during his visit. This program will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Jury Assembly Room in the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan. Media who wish to attend should contact Arturo Thompson, president of the Kansas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, at 785-218-8944 to make arrangements.

“These cases are about much more than returning property to victims. They point to the past, reminding us of what we can never allow to happen again, and they send a message of warning to those who might see profit in the intimidation and extortion of others,” said Thompson, who is also assistant dean of career services at the law school.

Dowd is a partner with Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP, practicing in the areas of corporate, intellectual property, litigation, and arbitration and art law. He is also a second circuit vice president for the Federal Bar Association and served as its general counsel in 2010-11. Dowd has lectured widely in the area of art law, including presentations at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in the Czech Republic and the Copyright Society of the U.S.A.

Dowd and his colleagues follow in the footsteps of the “Monuments Men,” a group of approximately 345 men and women from 13 nations who worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. They ultimately returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. 

The KU Law Student Chapter of the Federal Bar Association partnered with various donors and in-kind supporters to make this program possible. Funding for the public program comes from the Kansas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the FBA Chapter Resource Fund, the International Section of the FBA and the Bergman Family Charitable Fund. In-kind and promotional support are provided by the KU Edwards Campus, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, the Jewish Community Relations Bureau and the Spencer Museum of Art. 

Law school symposium to explore how rural communities can survive in the modern economy

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LAWRENCE — Scholars and professionals from across the nation will gather this week at the University of Kansas to discuss the economic challenges faced by rural communities and how to overcome them.

The University of Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy will host “Preventing the Ghost Town: What Rural Communities Need to Do to Survive in the Modern Economy” from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the Stinson Leonard Street LLP Lecture Hall, 104 Green Hall. The symposium has reached capacity, and registration is now closed. Day-of registrations may be available as space allows.

“I hope that this conference sparks a much-needed dialogue in our state about where we go from here to make sure our rural communities not only survive to the next generation, but thrive,” said Amanda Marshall, symposium editor.

The conference will open with a global look at sustainability of the rural community, followed by a discussion of land use and sustainability. Panelists will explore issues rural communities face when attempting to maximize land usage, followed by a presentation on legal institutions for rural economic development. The symposium will conclude with a final panel discussion on governmental needs and challenges faced by the rural community.

Presenters will include:

  • Gary Green, professor of community and environmental sociology, University of Wisconsin
  • Professor John Nolon, Pace Law School
  • Professor K.K. DuVivier, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Professor David Pierce, Washburn University School of Law
  • Wes Jackson, president, The Land Institute
  • Professor Stephen Miller, director of the Economic Development Clinic, University of Idaho College of Law-Boise
  • Sara Roberts, director of Rural Healthcare in Kansas
  • Patty Clark, Kansas director of USDA Rural Development
  • Donna Whiteman, Kansas Association of School Boards
  • Andrew Kovar, partner, Triplett, Woolf & Garretson

The symposium is funded by the Judge Nelson Timothy Stephens Lectureship Fund. Scholarship from the symposium will be published in a 2014 issue of the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy.

Seven hours of CLE credit will be offered in Kansas and Missouri for a $25 fee.

For more information and a complete agenda, visit the symposium website. For more information, contact Amanda Marshall by email.

Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Mindie Paget at mpaget@ku.edu in advance of the symposium.

KU law, business students assist with free tax preparation

Thursday, February 06, 2014

LAWRENCE – Law and business students from the University of Kansas are offering free tax preparation services from Monday, Feb. 17, through Tuesday, April 15, for those who qualify.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program prepares returns for taxpayers who are Kansas, Missouri or Illinois residents, who make less than $52,000 per household per year, and who do not itemize their deductions. Last year, students prepared about 350 federal and state tax returns.

Law students Chris Mattix and Trevor Bond are coordinating this year’s VITA program, with about 25 other law and business students helping to prepare returns.

“VITA provides tremendous value to the community and KU students alike,” Mattix said. “It gives individuals an alternative to paying a professional or risking error in preparing their own taxes, and it gives KU students firsthand experience with tax law and customer service.”

Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school and professor of tax-related law, serves as the VITA faculty coordinator.

The program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the number of preparers varies with the site. For this reason, those seeking assistance are encouraged to show up near the start of each session. Please bring proof of identification and all relevant documentation, including proof of income and expenditures. For specific information or further questions, please call 785-864-9227 or email vita@ku.edu.

 

Spring 2014 Schedule

Monday: 6–8:45 p.m., Green Hall, Third Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.
Tuesday: 1–3:30 p.m., Penn House, 1035 Pennsylvania St.
Wednesday: 3–5:45 p.m., Green Hall, Third Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.
Thursday: 3–4:45 p.m., Ballard Center, 708 Elm AND 5–6:30 p.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Resident Services, 1600 Haskell Ave., Apt. 187
Saturday: 10–11:45 a.m., Green Hall, Third Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.

No sessions will be held Saturday, Feb. 22; Monday, Feb.  24; Wednesday, March 5, or from March 15 to March 23.

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