Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, according to experts. One in six women will be the target of a rapist.
Nikki Saez, 27, said she was. But the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office declined to charge rape, citing inconsistencies in her story. Those who work with victims of sexual assault say the fact that she was not believed is not unusual.
L.B. Joseph -- the man Nikki Saez alleged raped her in 2012 -- was charged with battery, not rape, and Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas ruled he was not guilty.
“What I primarily see in our world is a reluctance to believe women,” said Kaethe Morris Hoffer, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “Even when they report a rape and there’s no motive for making it up,” she said.
“It takes an extraordinary amount of courage to report a rape,” said author and activist Anne Ream. She was sexually assaulted in 1990 and has spent years talking to and telling the stories of rape survivors. Her recently released book is titled "Lived Through This."
“It’s an overwhelming experience,” Ream said, “and yet still, you have men and women who come forward, who say my story matters ... We owe them the chance to speak."
In Chicago, police report an 8 percent decline in the number of reported Criminal Sexual Assault cases since 2011, though experts say most rapes are never reported.
Nikki Saez’s case was originally investigated by police as a rape. “Detectives yelled at me. They didn’t believe me,” she said in an interview. “It always turned out to 'why did I, why did I,' but it never came around that I said, 'no.'”
L.B. Joseph was arrested, but prosecutors declined to charge him with rape because they said Saez’s story was inconsistent. Police pursued the battery charge, a misdemeanor, in which the judge ruled in Joseph’s favor.
In September, Joseph and his brother were charged with six rapes dating back to 2003. Officials cited DNA evidence in pressing charges.
“When I first found out, I was devastated,” Saez said when asked what went through her mind when she heard the news.
Joseph and his brother have pled not guilty. Their next court appearance is later this month.
When asked why she decided to publicly recount what she said happened to her in March 2012, Saez replied, “Because there’s so much that our legal system let’s go.”