Victims of sexual assault in Illinois have harshly criticized the Chicago Police Department for the agency’s record in dealing with sexual assault cases. According to reports from advocacy groups and investigative journalists, up to nine-tenths of all sexual assault report complaints filed with the CPD fail to lead to an arrest. For years, survivors have spoken out about their treatment in some cases, where police officers have questioned them about their own behavior and clothing rather than focusing on the perpetrators.

Study indicates lack of police action

The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation published a year-long study on Oct. 8, noting that no more than 20% of survivors said that a perpetrator was arrested in their case. Even those who did see progress said that they often felt they had to wait excessively long periods of time for the CPD to take action. The report followed journalists’ investigation into the CPD’s record in assault cases that have highlighted the stories of victims who found no justice, despite filing police reports. Researchers found that more survivors are reporting their experiences to the police, but fewer cases are being solved.

Survivors call for improved response

One of the study’s authors noted that in 2019, only 4.5% of rape cases were solved, calling the results “beyond a failing grade.” Other advocates for sexual assault survivors said that they were not surprised by the study’s conclusions. In a statement, the CPD said that the agency was dedicating funds and other resources to improve its response to sexual assault and gender violence.

Survivors of sex crimes may seek justice by pursuing criminal charges against the perpetrator. In addition, victims of sexual abuse might work with a personal injury attorney to bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible, including the perpetrator and those who enabled the abuse to continue.