Sex Crimes in Denver: Fewer Than 50 Percent of Rapes Solved Last Year

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Editor's note: This is the second post in a series exploring violent crime in Denver. Click to read our first report, "Murder in Denver: Victims, Victimizers, Most Common Locations for Killings."

During 2017, more than 1,200 crimes involving non-consensual sex were committed in Denver, including more than 500 rapes, of which fewer than 50 percent were cleared by law enforcement.

The information comes from Colorado Crime Statistics, an excellent new website recently launched by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The site is very user-friendly, allowing folks to look up a wide range of data for specific time periods and jurisdictions.

We accessed Denver Police Department digits about violent crime, which includes murder, non-consensual sex offenses, aggravated assault and robbery, during 2017, the most recent year for which final stats are available.

Solving cases in these combined categories last year proved to be a significant challenge. Only about 54 percent of the DPD's cases were designated as "cleared," a term CBI communication director Susan Medina defines like so:

"'Cleared,' in most cases, means one or more arrests were made," Medina explains via email. "However, there are exceptions where an incident has reached a conclusion from the law enforcement perspective. An incident is also cleared if the offender is found but not arrested. These are called 'exceptional clearances.' Exceptional clearance occurs when the offender is a juvenile released to the parents, or if the offender is found to be deceased or if the offender is found to be in the custody of another jurisdiction. Also, an exceptional clearance may occur if the case cannot proceed by either prosecution declining the case or the victim refusing to cooperate. Then the incident is counted as cleared."

In all cases, though, "'cleared' means law enforcement has found the perpetrator of the crimes which occurred in the reported incident," she stresses.

Non-consensual sex offenses are defined as "any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sex offenses include rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object and fondling."

The total number of non-consensual sex crimes in Denver circa 2017 was 1,217. Of those, 694 are listed as cleared, for a rate of just over 57 percent.