Fact-check: Does Texas lead the nation in rape offenses?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Nusaiba Mizan, PolitiFact Texas/Austin American-StatesmanAugust 10, 2022 4:51 pm,

From PolitiFact Texas:

When Texas adopted a near-total ban on abortion in 2021, the measure did not include exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

Gov. Greg Abbott defended this decision during a September news conference after he was asked: “Why force a rape victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”

Abbott replied: “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets. So goal no. 1 in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape.”

In a June 27 Instagram post, O’Rourke posted a clip of this vow. In the post’s caption, O’Rourke wrote: “Under Abbott, Texas leads the nation in rape offenses while the rate of arrests for rape has fallen by nearly HALF. What happened to eliminating rape in Texas?”

Before tackling O’Rourke’s claim, it’s important to note Abbott’s statement misconstrued the reality of most rape crimes.

Eight out of 10 cases of rape are committed by someone known to the victim, according to Department of Justice data shared by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, or RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization. Among child and teen victims, that rate is even higher at 93%. Most of these crimes are not perpetrated by unknown assailants, as Abbott’s statement suggests by characterizing rapists on “the streets.”

O’Rourke’s claim about the number of rape offenses in Texas and the rate of arrests for those crimes is supported by data, but lacks important context.

Read the full story at the Austin American-Statesman, and listen to an interview with PolitiFact Texas’ Nusaiba Mizan in the audio player above.

Radio interview produced by Alexandra Hart

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