King County Metro: Tripled sexual assault reports a good thing

SEATTLE — A record-setting 122 million people rode King County Metro public transportation during the past year, where reports of sexual assaults tripled since the launch of the Report It To Stop It campaign in April, 2018.

KIRO 7 first reported the huge increase in numbers on March 21.

“The crime of sexual misconduct has been a problem hiding in plain sight on our systems,” Deputy General Manager Terry White said on Tuesday while announcing that the tripled reports are actually a good thing.

“By bringing the problem into the light, our goal was to put violators on notice and increase the number of reports.”

According to Metro Transit Police Maj. Dave Jutilla, before the program’s launch, there were 59 reports of Metro-related sexual assault in 2017; about five a month. Since Report It To Stop It debuted, he said there have been 178 reports of sexual assault; or 15 a month.

“These are all assigned to a detective in our criminal investigation unit for follow up, to hold the offender accountable.”

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According to the King County Sheriff's Office 37 criminal charges have been filed in King County Superior, District and Municipal courts since last April, resulting in 11 convictions.

Twenty-five more are still pending, including the sexual assault case filed against Reginald Devaughn Smith.

The 57-year old Smith is charged with striking then sexually assaulting a female passenger as the Metro E Line traveled Aurora Avenue last month.

The executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center calls the increase in sexual assault reports "great news."

“It’s the climate that we’re trying to change, and that’s what this campaign does,” Mary Ellen Stone said Tuesday.

“If it happened to you, we want to hear about it and we want to do something about it.  That’s the fundamental shift.”