AUGUSTA – Violent crime in Maine in down for the sixth year in a row, but the 2017 figures also show a disturbing trend in sexual assaults against women.
While Maine is seeing a decrease in violent crimes, every 19 hours and 33 minutes someone in the state is raped.
The violent sexual crime has increased for several years, and in 2017 saw an 18.6 percent jump over the 2016 figures.
“Rape – troubling – has gone up in 2017,” said Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman. “That is the third straight year it has done that.”
There were 439 rapes and nine attempted rapes reported in 2017 for a total of 448 violent sexual assaults. Combined, that is a 17 percent increase over 2016 where 370 rape cases and 13 attempted rapes were reported.
Homicides, simple assaults and motor vehicle thefts also increased in 2017, while the other violent crimes tracked in the annual uniform crime report — arson, domestic violence, theft, burglary, robbery and assaults — all decreased.
“We had a bump in homicides in 2017, but so far in 2018 we have a decrease,” McCausland said.
Maine saw 21 murders and one manslaughter by negligence when a woman was shot by a hunter in Hebron, during 2017. There were 18 murders in 2016.
“We’re not crime free. And the crime we continue to battle has a drug connection,” McCausland said. “Someone is dying in Maine every day because of drugs.”
In the last half decade, Maine’s overall violent crime rate has decreased by 46.8 percent.
“The positive news is that crime overall has gone down and has gone down for six straight years,” McCausland said. “It is a success story and it is a team effort. Prosecutors, police, the courts, advocacy groups all are involved in keeping the numbers down.”