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'It's all done in public:' Advocate sheds light on difficulty of rape cases

According to the "Rape Abuse Incest and National Network", out of every 1,000 rapes nationwide, 994 perpetrators will walk free. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

Four men are on probation after pleading guilty to assault and battery charges.

A judge sentenced them under the Youthful Offenders Act. Police initially charged them with sexual assault.

According to the assistant solicitor, the plea deal is easier on the victims so they won't have to relive the crime during trials.

Local advocates said the justice system is cracking down on rape cases, but there's still plenty of work to be done.

According to the "Rape Abuse Incest and National Network," out of every 1,000 rapes nationwide, 994 perpetrators will walk free.

"It's the perpetrator of the crime; they're the ones who have violated the law," said Vicki Bourus, executive director of the Family Justice Center.

That's something she often times has to remind rape victims, telling ABC15 News it can be hard to get them to share their story. They feel victimized and sometimes embarrassed.

"If she's been drinking, that's not against the law. If she's wearing a short skirt, that's not against the law," said Bourus. "It doesn't give anybody permission to violate her safety."

In court, Bourus said she finds punishment may not always match the crime.

"The perpetrator has a defense attorney who is going to do whatever he can to intimidate that victim, to incriminate that victim," she said.

The 15th Circuit Solicitors Office is working hard to change that. Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said his office sees more than 200 rape cases each year.

Some of those cases have had sentencing as soon as Thursday, like Scott Welch, who was sentenced to 18 years in for his role in a Surfside Beach attempted rape.

"When you're seeing decades roll out, that's a long time and it means that we take it very seriously," said Richardson. In fact, he said, rape cases are as much a priority in his office as murder cases.

Richardson said some cases take years to investigate. Evidence takes time and you have to make sure its enough for the jury.

Bourus said the long wait can be trying on the victims. "It's all public. It's all done in public, so her family is exposed. Her friends (and) other relationships she may have."

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