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Forcible Sexual Assaults Down in Fairfax County, State

FCPD, Virginia State Police unsure of what caused downward trend.

Though Fairfax County police are combing the streets searching for those involved in a , they report the number of such attacks investigated by the agency have actually gone down in recent years.

Over the past three years, there has been a steady decrease in sexual assaults in Fairfax County as well as the state, according to the agency. In 2011, Fairfax County police investigated 251 forcible sex offenses, down from 320 investigations in 2010.

FCPD spokesman Bud Walker said in 2012,  the department has investigated 154 forcible sex offenses — “at this time last year, we had investigated 160," he said.

The Aug. 19 sexual assault in Merrifield was the second reported in the area since May, when by two men around 1 a.m. in the 2400 block of Gallows Road near the W&OD Trail. The woman was hospitalized after the attack. Walker said there are currently no leads.

In another incident, They were walking along Chain Bridge Road on Aug. 20 when a man ran towards them and grabbed them. The man ran away after the girls screamed. They reported to police that they had both been touched inappropriately, but neither were injured.

Despite the recent cases, police do not know the cause of the overall decrease. Corrine Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, said her agency has investigated 50 forcible sexual assaults through June 30 of this year. VSP investigated 211 forcible sexual assaults and assisted other state agencies in 78 other investigations in 2011.

With nine full-time detectives and one lieutenant, Walker said Fairfax County's Sex Crimes Unit has seen the number of cases they investigate decrease. He said the unit has not investigated a forcible sexual assault that ended in death.

Geller said VSP has several violent crimes investigators designated to the seven field offices the agency maintains throughout the Commonwealth. She said some of those investigators have received special training to deal with victims of a sex crime. In today’s technology era, Geller said VSP has also developed a unit to handle online sex-related crimes.

“We also have agents assigned to our High-Tech Crimes Division who trained in investigating sex crimes associated with online cases,” Geller said.

Locally Involved August 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM
What's the difference between a 'Forcible Sexual Assault" and a sexual assault? I hear this phrase alot lately and I'm having a hard time discerning between the two. Seems to me, a sexual assault is not a welcomed advance. Therefore, forcible, no matter what. Why the adjective? Is it a legal thing?
Lauren Sausser (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 06:06 PM
You're basically right. I did a little research on this term before publishing the article. The term "forcible" isn't really necessary in normal conversation because almost all types of sexual assault are considered forcible. According to a report from the Virginia Attorney General's office, "non-forcible sexual offenses include incest and statutory rape." It's a legal term that is used in reporting these crimes and we included it in this article to be as accurate as possible.
Locally Involved August 28, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Leave it to VA, LOL. I guess they are trying to differentiate between physical force and emotional manipulation- a term for, my purposes, am referring to regarding incest and statutory. Thanks for the clarification!

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