Shining A Light On The Sexual Abuse Problem

FBI: South Dakota Ranks Second In U.S. In Reported Rapes Per Capita

Advocates for victims of rape work year-round to shed light on the abuse.

This month, however, there’s an even bigger focus.

April is dedicated to sexual abuse awareness.

On Thursday, Sioux Falls Police arrested Mark Diede, 39, for allegedly molesting two young girls.

Michelle Markgraf, Executive Director with The Compass Center, an abuse counseling resource, said the state has a sexual abuse problem.

“The fact is sexual assaults occur in South Dakota more often than they occur in the rest of the nation,” said Markgraf.

South Dakota is ranked second highest in the country when it comes to sexual violence.

FBI statistics on rape cases in the U.S. put South Dakota’s rate fifty percent higher than the national average.

“We need to start taking this on as an entire community. That this is our responsibility to make a difference in the lives of the people in South Dakota,” said Markgraf.

Sioux Falls, alone, had 97 reported rapes in 2015.

In 2016, that number went up to 107.

Markgraf said that increase can be attributed to population growth.

However, Sioux Falls sees a twenty-three percent higher rate of rapes than like-size cities.

“Seven or eight years ago we had numbers similar to what we’re seeing now, and then they kind of dropped off then picked back up. For those, it’s more the up and down,” said Officer Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department.

Court documents state an adult alerted police about the alleged incident between Diede and two young girls.

Clemens said timing is key in helping abuse cases.

“We’ve taken reports days, weeks, even years, after the fact and from our sides, that’s when it gets real challenging when we have the long gap between when it occurred and when that reports made,” said Clemens.

Markgraf said getting a rape report is the most difficult part.

“Almost all of them are by somebody known, hardly any stranger rapes occur. A lot of people feel that extra guilt, too, and we see that in a lot of survivors, children and adult, that oh, I don’t want to get this person in trouble,” said Markgraf.

When it comes to protecting people against sexual abuse, the Compass Center uses the acronym “CARE”

Create a distraction to help a victim, Ask the victim directly, Refer to an authority and Enlist others to help defuse a situation.

Diede faces four counts of first degree rape

His bond was set Thursday at $250,000.

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