SALEM -- Salem’s deputy police chief says sex abuse cases are always difficult to investigate and prosecute. But he also thinks police can do a better job.
“A young girl that’s never faced this before may not be able to communicate that to the district attorney of what she was feeling, what she thought might happen,” said Steve Bellshaw.
The deputy chief is a member of the Oregon Attorney General’s Sex Assault Task Force. He also is an instructor for the Sex Assault Training Institute.
It’s a critical point of learning to which Bellshaw says police need to pay constant attention.
“That’s one of the things we’re trying to teach our officers in looking at these cases. For years, we’ve been in the 'Just the facts, ma’am,' the Jack Webb thing, we don’t want to know," he said. "But we have to ask about feelings. What did you think might happen if you tried to get away? Because we have to get into the mind of the victim. We have to put ourselves there in that situation,” Bellshaw said.
He says sex abuse cases can be tricky because of the consent issue. But he says in reality it’s pretty simple.
Consent is agreement. It’s not just that you don’t say no. You have to say yes.
There has to be some type of sign that you are agreeing to this. So it’s not just the fact that you didn’t fight or didn’t resist.
"Consent is actual agreement that I want this and am participating in it,” he said.
In the police report on the case of the University of Oregon sex case involving basketball players, the victim told police she said 'no' the basketball players several times. But they did not stop. And they did not get charged with any crime.