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Best Local Scandal

The underreporting of rape cases

Sun reporter Justin Fenton’s simple idea—check and see if the city’s rape statistics make any sense at all—could have been done by any alert reporter at any time in the past decade. Nobody did. And so for years, while politicians boasted of falling crime rates, women all over the city were being raped and then told, by police, to forget about it. That it didn’t happen. That their claims were “unfounded.” Baltimore’s reported rape rate was so much lower than comparable cities—and so out of whack with its rate of other violent crimes—that it shouldn’t have taken a reporter to see that something was wrong. But since lower crime rates (illusory or not) are in the interest of every ambitious politician and bureaucrat, the cover-up continued. Now there’s an internal inquiry into the matter and a U.S., Senate hearing inspired, in part, by Fenton’s work. And now the cops and politicians are shocked. Anyone who believes that probably believes the other crime stats.

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