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Phantom Assaults

The crime wave that wasn't

by James Leonard

From the May, 2021 issue

"I got a call today from an irate citizen talking about the three sexual assaults in one place," says Ann Arbor police chief Mike Cox. The Observer's April Crime Map showed twelve sexual assaults in February--compared to four in February 2020--including three in Ann Arbor Hills.

No, there's not a serial rapist at large. Lt. Bonnie Theil, commander of the AAPD's detective bureau, explains that three reports were "from other jurisdictions that have an Ann Arbor zip code." Of the rest, "only two of them actually occurred during the month of February."

Why were the numbers so far off? Crimes are "entered into our court system with the date that they were reported," Theil explains, "but that's not necessarily the date that it occurred.

"In one instance, it was a delayed report [of an alleged assault] that occurred between 1991 and 2000. The victim was a minor at the time. She now lives out of state, and she got to a point where she was able to feel comfortable enough disclosing some things that occurred to her a long time ago. [It's] included on the list for February because it wasn't reported until February."

Another was reported and posted, but "once it got investigated, it was determined that it actually did not meet the elements of a criminal sexual conduct and therefore is not actually considered a sexual assault," Thiel says.

The three assaults in Ann Arbor Hills, Theil says, were reported to have occurred "between seven and eight years [ago]. Those were victim juveniles and a victim suspect who are all known to each other." That investigation is ongoing.     (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2021.]


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