March 09, 2011 | 08:44 AMSince the start of the year, there have been six reported sexual assaults in the city of Lake Geneva.
It's a number that concerns Police Chief Michael Rasmussen.
"The year is just starting out, so it is kind of scary," he said about the high number.
During the past two weeks, police have arrested two men and have a 16-year-old in custody in connection with alleged sexual assaults and rapes in the city. Rasmussen said three of the incidents involve teenagers and social networking and the others involve people who know each other.
Charges have been referred to the Walworth County District Attorney's Office against two men, ages 22 and 26, for second degree sexual assault of a child. According to police, officers received a complaint that two teenage girls were sexually assaulted at a Lake Geneva home. Officers investigated the complaint and found that a 13-year-old girl was assaulted at the home by the 26-year-old who she had met on a social networking site. A 14-year-old girl was also assaulted by the 22-year-old at the same home. The victims were friends and went to the residence together where both men were staying.
Rasmussen said his department, specifically officer Ralph Braden who is the liaison officer at Badger High School, do their best to talk to students about the dangers of social networking and the Internet.
Braden said he talks to every freshman student and devotes time to discussions about the affect of social networking regarding future employment and safety. He said he tells students about a story from several years ago in which a girl went to meet someone she had been in contact with on a social networking site. Police were notified and found the person she was going to see had condoms, gloves and paper towels in the vehicle.
"I tell them we aren't too small of a community for this type of thing to happen," Braden said.
On March 2, officers investigated a complaint that a 15-year-old girl was forcibly raped by a 16-year-old boy at a home in Lake Geneva. The girl reported to police that the boy had choked her and then raped her during the assault. He was turned over to Walworth County Juvenile Intake and charges were referred for second degree sexual assault with use of force.
Police currently are investigating three other assaults:
- On Jan. 6, officers investigated a complaint received from Racine County detectives and involved a 15-year-old girl and 27-year-old Lake Geneva man. The reported assaults occurred at a home in the city and in a vehicle in the town of Lyons.
- On Jan. 9, officers investigated a complaint from a 26-year-old woman who told police she was repeatedly raped inside of a hotel room in the city. The suspect in the ongoing investigation is believed to be a 35-year-old Pell Lake man.
- On Feb. 8, officers investigated a complaint regarding the sexual assault of three teenage girls. The assaults are reported to have occurred inside a home in the city. The suspect is 16 and the victims include two 13-year-olds and a 15-year-old.
What to do about social networking
Braden said he talks to students who have "500 to 700 friends" on their social networking pages. He asks them whether they know each person and if they would be able to tell if someone else other than their "friend" was contacting them. He also talks about sexting and makes the students aware of the consequences.
He has some keys for parents to pay attention to when it comes to social networking.
- Keep the computers in open areas, like the living room or kitchen — not in a bedroom.
- Use parent control features.
- Have passwords for cell phone networking.
Braden said he has a meeting scheduled with school officials to talk about putting up more posters about the dangers of social networking. More information will be included in the upcoming edition of the district's Community Report newspaper.