For those who have been accused of sex crimes – or who know someone who has been accused – becoming familiar with a few recent cases can provide valuable insight. At Berry Law Firm, one of our specialties is supporting those who have been accused of sex crimes through defense. We periodically review recent cases to add to the knowledge and expertise of Berry Law Firm attorneys in this area of specialty.
Below are the FBI’s most recent sex crime statistics for the Omaha area, as well as several recent cases of Omaha sex crimes.
Sex Crime Statistics in Omaha
The FBI’s uniform crime report for 2016 does not include specific sex crimes statistics other than rape. This report provides insight into how Omaha rape statistics compare with other U.S. cities, and how Omaha rape statistics compare to figures for other crimes.
- 245 rapes in Omaha
- Amounts to 54.9 rapes per 100,000 people
- Rate of rapes in Omaha is 3% higher than in Nebraska overall
- Rate of rapes in Omaha is 15% higher than the U.S. overall
- 245 rapes accounted for about 9.5% of all violent crimes in Omaha
- Based on all violent crimes, Omaha is safer than only about 16% of U.S. cities – in other words, it is below average
Recent Omaha Sex Crimes
The cases listed in the following section are not representative of all sex crimes in Omaha or any other jurisdiction. The nature of sex crimes is that each individual circumstance is unique – one of the reasons sex crimes defense can be complex. To learn more about sex crimes defense, read this Berry Law Firm article.
In Nebraska, as in all other states, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity without consent.
Defining and proving consent can be difficult, because the accused and the alleged victim may have different ideas about what constitutes consent. However, in some cases it’s not hard to prove there was no consent, as when rape occurs during a robbery.
For example, last year one Omahan was arrested for the rape and robbery of an Omaha woman who said a masked man entered her home and raped her before leaving the home with some of her money.
In other cases, rape occurs when someone who is known by the victim engages in sexual intercourse without consent. When the accused and the victim are dating, this is known as date rape. Rapes in Omaha recently included one date rape case may have involved the use of what is commonly referred to as a “date rape drug”.
When sexual activity takes place that doesn’t involve intercourse, it’s called sexual assault. In many cases, perpetrators of sexual assault have a history of nonconsensual sexual behavior that doesn’t come to light until an alleged victim comes forward. One such case in Omaha this year involved the alleged ongoing sexual assault of massage therapy customers.
Sexual Assault, Title IX
When a sexual assault takes place on a college or university campus, the school is required by federal law to investigate the incident on campus. This is governed by a law known as Title IX. These cases are sometimes handled in tandem with law enforcement and criminal charges, and sometimes handled confidentially without any legal charge being made.
Many, if not most, of these cases are kept confidential, so information is not available online about individual cases. However, Berry Law Firm offers expertise and information about Title IX for those who would like to learn more.
Solicitation of a Minor
In Nebraska, when an adult requests that a minor engage in sex, this is called solicitation of a minor or child solicitation. The actual sex act itself doesn’t have to take place for a person to be charged with this crime. However, if the person is found guilty of related sexual assault charges involving a physical sexual assault, the person won’t be tried for both that crime and this one.
When solicitation of a minor involves approaching a child through the use of electronic communication devices, it falls under a special section of Nebraska law – a statute added specifically to address a proliferation of instances in recent years where adults proposition children online.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says one in every seven children has been solicited for sex online. Read more about this offense here, including penalties, complicating factors and special allowances for teenagers who use texting and other electronic communications in romantic relationships.
Sexual Assault of a Minor
If an adult who is at least 19 years old has sexual contact of any kind with a minor aged 14 or younger, it falls under the category of sexual assault of a child. As demonstrated by this Omaha case, a person can be charged with this crime even if the child says they are older.
In Nebraska, the age of consent is 16. This means that a child under the age of 16 can’t legally consent to sexual contact. When a child of this age verbally agrees to sexual relations, even if they say they are older, the adult who has sexual contact with them can be charged with statutory rape. This is because Nebraska lawmakers have decided that minors don’t have the legal right to agree to sexual activity with an adult.
In a recent Omaha case, a man who had consensual relations with a 12-year-old was charged with statutory rape, even though she may have agreed to have sex with him. In this case, the accused is also being charged with kidnapping, because he traveled with the girl to Missouri. As with the statutory rape charge, even if the girl agreed to go with the accused, it could be considered kidnapping due to her young age.
Child Pornography, Manufacturing/Distribution
Federal laws govern the creation and distribution of child pornography. Offenses include any type of creation or handling of pornography depicting children. Under these laws, it’s a crime to produce, buy, sell, possess, distribute, receive, transport or ship child pornography.
A high-profile child pornography distribution case in Omaha resulted in the conviction of a director of cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Child Pornography, Possession
Nebraska law makes it a crime to simply possess child pornography, which includes any images of children participating in or observing sexually explicit conduct. A case in Omaha earlier this year involved possession of child pornography by a 27-year-old man. The man originally was charged with distribution of child pornography as well, but the charges were dropped.
Sexual Abuse of an Inmate or Parolee
Nebraska law includes a statute specifically governing the sexual abuse of inmates or parolees by employees of a city, county or state office, including persons working under contract with those offices, such as a privately contracted parole officer or counselor. Those who have sex with inmates or parolees can be charged under this law, even if the inmate or parolee agrees to sexual relations.
Earlier this year, a former inmate at the Omaha Correctional Center was denied civil damages against a prison guard who was convicted of sexual assault against him in 2012.
Sexual Abuse of a Protected Individual
A recent Omaha case demonstrates the seriousness with which Nebraska lawmakers view sexual contact with persons considered to be “protected individuals.” In this case, a caregiver at a child services facility had sexual relations with a 17-year-old client of the facility.
Sexual harassment charges have spread across the nation recently in light of several high-profile cases and a strong online campaign involving the use of the #MeToo hashtag. Omaha is seeing its share of these cases, including one earlier this year that involved the alleged sexual harassment of an employee of the Omaha public works department.
A 27-year-old Omaha man recently was sentenced to 180 days in jail for indecent exposure and lewd conduct. He was caught pleasuring himself outside an Omaha family’s patio door. If there is no contact with the victim, this is a potential charge for public sexual activity.
False Accusations for Sex Crimes
Not all Omaha sex crimes in area courts end in convictions. Many cases involve accusations that are found to be false, as in a recent case in which the accused was defended by Berry Law Firm attorney and practice owner, John S. Berry.
If you or someone you know are facing an accusation of rape, sexual assault, solicitation of a minor, lewd conduct or any of the crimes listed above, you may want to consult with an attorney to help you receive fair treatment. Your concerns likely include not only facing criminal charges, but also managing other consequences of the accusation, such as damage to your reputation and/or professional standing.
If you or a loved one is facing sex crime accusations, contact the experienced Title IX defense attorneys at Berry Law Firm.