CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Salt Lake County observes Sexual Assault Awareness month

Apr 1, 2024, 9:00 PM

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaks as he joins with Rape Recovery Center Executive ...

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaks as he joins with Rape Recovery Center Executive Director Sonya Martinez and Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera to discuss April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month at a press conference on Monday, April 1, 2024, at the DA’s office in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake County District Attorney is filing charges against a man accused of hitting a police officer with his car last month. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — April marks Sexual Assault Awareness month here in Utah. 

Monday, April 1, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office held a press conference, to discuss Utah specific data and resources for victims of sexual assault. 

“It’s time to talk about the problem of sexual assault in our country, the need to report sexual assaults, and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. 

Sonya Martinez-Ortiz, Executive Director the Rape Recovery Center, told KSL NewsRadio that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. 

“Over 80 percent actually never report those assaults to the police,” she said. “Rape is the only violent crime in Utah where we’re actually doing worse than the rest of the country.”

According to the Salt Lake County DA’s Office, since January 2023, there have been 276 rape charges throughout the state. 104 of those charges were in Salt Lake County. In the last year, there have been about 3,200 sexual assault charges filed statewide, with around 1,200 in Salt Lake county. 

Martinez-Ortiz said most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone that the victim knows. 

“The most important thing to do… is work towards ensuring that prevention is possible,” she said. “This starts with having conversations at home, at our kitchen tables and in schools… so we can really address healthy relationships and the importance of everybody having autonomy over their bodies.” 

Sexual assault resources in Utah 

Both the Salt Lake County’s DA Office and Martinez-Ortiz mentioned resources Utah has to offer victims and survivors of sexual assault. 

“We have about 14 rape crisis centers,” Martinez-Ortiz said. “There are places you can call: the Utah coalition against sexual assault has a statewide hotline…. where you can speak to one of our advocates who can help you determine what resources you need access to.” You can call this 24-hour hotline at (801) 736-4356. 

The Salt Lake County DA’s office created a division called the “Survivor and Victim Support Services Division.” In a press release, they said “it’s not only important symbolically, but institutionally, to have an equal spot in our organization to respect and honor the challenges that we face and our survivors are going through.”

If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault, call 1-800-656-4673, the National Sexual Assault Hotline or the Rape Recovery Center (801-736-4356). 

Read more: DNA testing links Georgia brothers to unsolved rape cases from the 1980s

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Salt Lake County observes Sexual Assault Awareness month