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SPECIAL REPORT: Central Wisconsin county ranks high in sex offense reports

LINCOLN COUNTY (WAOW) — Sex offense reports have risen in Wisconsin over the last five years, according to date released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

According to reports, Lincoln County has the second most sex offense reports per capita in the entire state.

In 2018, the county had 44 reports. Lincoln Co. officials say it comes down to how they report sex offense cases.

Lt. Tim Fischer, with the Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Dept., says they send every report, whether it’s unfounded or not, to the district attorney’s office. Lt. Fischer says not all counties or police agencies do that.

“Not only for prosecution, but for him to review to make sure we don’t miss anything,” says Lt. Fischer.

Fischer says another factor is Lincoln Hills.

“The Lincoln County sexual assault numbers may be also elevated due to the presence of the Lincoln Hills School,” says Lt. Fischer. “We receive multiple PREA, which is the Prison Rape Elimination Act case that are reported from the school.”

It isn’t just Lincoln County, five of the top 15 counties are in Central Wisconsin. Waupaca Co. at number 5, Wood Co. at number 9, Price Co. at 14, and Oneida Co. at 15.

“We found that our county isn’t much different from other counties around the state,” says Lt. Fischer. “Comes down to how we report our cases.”

Sauk Co. ranked number 1 and Eau Claire Co. number 3.

Advocates don’t think the increase in reports is a bad thing.

“I think an increase in reports is actually a really positive thing,” says Jane Graham Jennings, the Executive Director with the Women’s Community. “I don’t think it’s happening more, but what I hope is being created is an environment where victims feel safe reporting.”

However, Graham Jennings says there’s still a long way to go.

“It’s not capturing how common sexual assault really is,” says Graham Jennings. “Most sexual assault victims, don’t ever report.”

There are numerous resources available for sexual assault victims, you can find a list here and here.

Courtney Terlecki

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