Carroll teen's account of assault led to more reports and arrest

Police, counselors praise 18-year-old's decision to speak

November 05, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

When a Carroll County teen went to a hospital seeking treatment for a possible rape, she set in motion a series of events that would result in the arrest of a 17-year-old Taneytown boy. She also gave three other girls who said they had been raped by him the courage to come forward, according to police and rape crisis experts.

Though she did not call the police, the 18-year-old's willingness to reveal what happened to her earned praise from police. "She knew that what had happened to her was wrong and criminal," said Sgt. James T. DeWees, supervisor of the state police Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit.

It doesn't always work that way. Most of the time, victims don't report their rape to police.

Friendship, coupled with embarrassment and guilt, often makes it difficult for victims to come forward, DeWees said. Victims might be drinking alcohol or using drugs at the time of their sexual assaults, and they don't want police or their parents to know, experts said.

"In cases where somebody knocks on your door and you don't know who they are, you would kick, scream, scratch - whatever it takes to get out of that situation," he said. But when the assailant is a friend, "some victims have this initial shock - `I can't believe this is happening to me' - and before they know it, the assault itself is over."

Last week, Nathaniel Jared Yinger was arrested and charged with the rape of four teens between the ages of 16 and 18 from December through September. The teens attended Francis Scott Key High School in northwestern Carroll County. Three of the four said they were raped at parties where alcohol was being consumed.

Two told police they considered the suspect a friend, according to court documents.

Yinger, of the 2800 block of Basehore's Mill Road, has been charged as an adult with multiple counts of second-degree rape, second-degree assault, second-degree sex offense and sodomy. He posted bail and is on home detention, allowed to leave his home only for court appearances, meetings with his lawyer or visits to a doctor.

The investigation began Sept. 29, when the 18-year-old woman went to Carroll County General Hospital seeking treatment as a possible rape victim and the hospital notified police. The young woman told police she had passed out on a couch from drinking beer and malt liquor during a house party in Taneytown, and woke up and was attacked as she struggled to get away, according to the court documents.

As police investigated the incident, the circle widened, and three more teens came forward, DeWees said.

A 15-year-old girl said an acquaintance stopped by her house one afternoon in December and raped her after they played pool and talked, according to the documents. A 16-year-old girl said she and another teen were at a party at a friend's house Feb. 27 when he sexually assaulted her while she was trying to sleep on the couch, according to the documents. And another 18-year-old woman told police she had consumed several shots of vodka at a friend's party in April and was trying to go to sleep when she was raped and sodomized, according to the documents.

Rape and sexual assault are the crimes least often reported to law enforcement. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, 28 percent of 110,270 rapes that occurred in 1999 were reported to police.

Teens ages 16 to 19 are 3 1/2 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's 1996 National Crime Victimization Survey.

Because high schools are closely knit communities where fitting in and not drawing attention to oneself are important, girls who have been sexually assaulted by a fellow student could feel especially reluctant to report the incident, according to Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that operates America's only national hot line for victims of sexual assault.

"If she tells one or two friends she's going to the cops, word will get out," Berkowitz said. "Everyone in her high school will know who she is."

Often, once one victim comes forward, others gain confidence that their stories will be believed. "The focus won't be on their behavior ... it will be on the serial rapist," he said.

That three victims were underage and drinking on the nights they allege the rapes occurred could add to their reluctance to report the crime, according to Karen Hartz, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault Inc. in Arnold.

"These kids are underage," Hartz said. "If they come forward and say they were drunk at the time and weren't able to respond [to the assault], they have to answer to their parents as to why they were drinking."

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