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September 16, 2014

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Seniors urged to be vigilant after assault on woman, 75

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Sketch artist of the sexual assault suspect

Sex assault

The Rape Crisis Center is urging seniors to be vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings in the wake of a sexual assault involving a 75-year-old woman.

The woman was assaulted during her morning walk sometime between 7:30 and 9:20 a.m. on March 2 near the corner of Sahara Avenue and Valley View Boulevard, according to Metro police.

Police said a man kidnapped her and took her to a trash bin area where he committed the assault. When the suspect fled, the woman notified a citizen, who then called police.

Alyson Shainker of The Rape Crisis Center, which provides counseling and support services, said senior citizens should not feel safer about becoming the victim of a sex crime because of their age. If anything, she said, they are considered a more vulnerable in the eyes of a criminal.

“A lot of elderly people don’t think rape can happen to them, but most cases of rape have nothing to do with physical attraction,” Shainker said. “It’s about power, control and dominance. The offender is looking for a vulnerable person to victimize.”

Elderly individuals should try to not go out by themselves, Shainker said. If friends or family aren’t around, they should try to plan their trips during daytime hours, Shainker said. “Rapes and sexual assaults are less likely to occur in populated areas with lots of light,” she said.

In 2008, The Rape Crisis Center, located at 6375 W. Charleston Blvd., provided services to four sexual assault victims 65 or older and 15 victims 55 or older. But those numbers could be much higher, because many sexual assault cases involving seniors go unreported, Shainker said.

Shainker also said that nursing homes and care facilities are not immune to problems.

“If family members are visiting older relatives, they should ask them directly if there are any problems or concerns,” she said.

Shainker also recommends that seniors take common-sense precautions, such as locking doors and parking in open, well-lit areas. “Small steps like these can make a difference in the end,” she said.

Police are still searching for the suspect in the March 2 sexual assault. Anyone with further information about the assault is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 385-5555. For more information about The Rape Crisis Center, visit www.therapecrisiscenter.org.

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].

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