Local News

Child Sex Abuse Cases On Rise In Cumberland County

Posted July 17, 2002

— In previous years, Cumberland County has had the highest number of child sexual abuse cases in the state, but this year, the numbers look even worse. Cases have been flooding in every day to deputies.

It seems like every day, Sgt. Nancy Cressler finds out another child in Cumberland County has been sexually abused. Cressler is the supervisor of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Child Abuse Team.

"When you come in everyday and you see five new, more cases on your desk, you wonder, 'Am I ever going to get through all these cases," she said.

Last year, there were 187 reported cases of child sexual abuse in Cumberland County. So far this year, there have already been 154 and officials said the number continues to increase.

"In one day, I had 13 referrals, and then I had 6 more to come in over the weekend," Cressler said.

Cumberland County has among the highest number of child sexual abuse cases in the state. In 2000-2001, there were 34 substantiated cases of sexual abuse in Cumberland County, involving in-home caregivers. Durham tied Cumberland that year, but both Wake and Orange counties had fewer cases.

Child advocate Kelli McDonald said although the numbers are high in Cumberland County, it proves more people are reporting sexual abuse, and she said that is half the battle of turning the numbers around.

"There are adults that simply do not know sexual activity with a minor is illegal, they do not know you can commit a sexual abuse without even touching a child," McDonald said. "We do rally behind the success stories that we have. Those aren't the ones that make the headlines."

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office expects the number of cases to outnumber last year's total, making it a potential record year for child sex abuse cases.

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