Reported Sexual Assaults on the Rise in Santa Clara County

Reported incidents of rape and sexual assault have risen in the South Bay over the past year, and experts think the increase is at least partially related to victims’ growing willingness to tell police about the crimes.

That’s one of the findings in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s latest annual overview of crimes in the region. The report, which looks at data from 2018, also found that more Gilroy residents are charged with a crime than in almost every other ZIP code in the county, and both violent and juvenile offenses are on the rise.

In 2018, 1,982 Gilroy residents were charged by the DA’s office with one or more crimes, according to the report. The only neighborhood that produced more criminal defendants was downtown San Jose, where 2,052 residents were charged in 2018.

The study noted a correlation between the prevalence of crime in certain ZIP codes and socioeconomic factors in those neighborhoods, such as poverty. “Looking more closely at our defendant ZIP codes, we find that defendants most commonly reside in poorer, more dangerous and less healthy neighborhoods,” the DA’s analysis states.

Victims More Likely to Report

The DA’s annual assessment also found that while reports of sexual assaults are on the rise in Santa Clara County, authorities are encouraged that victims are seemingly more likely to alert authorities about their assailant or rapist than they have in the past.

“These statistics are an invaluable tool in our efforts to prevent sexual assault and other violent crimes,” DA Jeff Rosen says. “We are ever hopeful that more survivors will come forward to let their powerful voices be heard and help us protect our community.”

In 2018, the DA’s office filed charges for 279 sexual assault cases. These include charges of assault with intent to commit sexual act, rape, statutory rape, pimping, pandering, aggravated sexual assault, child sexual assault and other related crimes. In 2017, the number of such filings was 268. In 2016, sexual assault charge filings was up to 284.

The San Jose Police Department alone fielded 615 reports of rape in 2018, according to the DA. That number has been steadily increasing since 2011; in 2017, there were 571 rapes reported in San Jose.

Part of the increase may owed to federal authorities updating the definition of rape in 2014 to broaden the types of cases counted. That redefining of the crime might explain some of the recent years’ increase, but experts agree that victims are also more likely to come forward with allegations than ever before.

Alarmingly, the clearance rate for sexual assault cases handled by SJPD has dropped by half from 12.5 percent in 2017-18 to just 6.7 percent this year.

Erica Elliott, a sexual assault and prevention program manager of Community Solutions, says rape and sexual assault used to be a “taboo topic that people were hidden from.”

More recently, she explains, the public discussion of sexual assault in almost all forms of media has become commonplace, bolstered by the “#MeToo” movement and other efforts to support victims.

Federal authorities have enacted more laws in recent years supporting victims, further encouraging survivors to talk about their incidents, according to Elliott.

“Having those conversations helps people,” she says. “When I grew up, I was taught it was a stranger in a scary van. But realistically, 90 percent of sexual assaults happen by people we know and trust. It can happen to anybody. People’s response to ... victims has become generally a lot more positive, where I used to hear a lot more victim blaming.”

Elliott further notes that advocates and law enforcement have increasingly looked into the “intersectionality” of sexual assault with other crimes, adding to authorities’ ability to record and prosecute such incidents. For example, Elliott says, “many domestic violence survivors have also experienced sexual assault.”

Other Crime Findings

Below are some other notable findings in the DA’s annual report.

• Juvenile crime rose by about 25 percent in Santa Clara County, with 798 minors charged with a crime in 2018, compared to 592 in 2017.

• Juvenile crimes showing the biggest increase from 2017 to 2018 are robbery (238 charges in 2018 for a 98 percent increase) and carjacking (79 charges in 2018 for a 182 percent increase).

• The DA’s office prosecutes Latino and black residents at a higher rate than these groups are represented in the county overall. Asian and Pacific Islander residents are prosecuted at a rate lower than their percentage of the overall county’s population.

• Charges for violent felonies (robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, felony assault) totaled 847 in 2018, compared to 805 in 2017. In 2016, the DA’s office filed 709 charges for violent felonies. The report says the increase in violent crime is “driven primarily by a marked increase in reported rapes and robberies.”

By the Numbers

7,046: Felony cases filed in 2018 (up from 6,715 in 2017)

29,902: Misdemeanor cases filed in 2018 (up from 29,462 in 2017)

279: Sexual assault charges filed in 2018

268: Sexual assault charges filed in 2017

Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


  1. Mr. Rosen’s office continues to issue reports designed to advance his political career. What is completely absent from the report are statistics related to white collar crimes. Reading this report one might believe Santa Clara County residents are only in danger if they live in zip code 95020. The reality is that thousands of uncharged crimes arise from Silicon Valley and are virtually invisible to the public and the press. It is far more camera favorable for Mr. Rosen to present stats that indicate he is prosecuting rape in a #metoo era than it is for him to put the white faces of Silicon Valley on the news when those faces are hacking into computers, stealing privacy , robbing seniors and children or obstructing justice in our local courts. If Mr. Rosen prosecuted perjury or failing of false documents in our family courts, the cases would eclipse all the zip codes for all other crimes in Santa Clara County.

    Also not so surprisingly absent from these stats are the public corruption charges brought by Mr. Rosen’s office. In fact no judge has been indicted since 2005. Perhaps Mr. Rosen’s own wife being a family law judge provides a special kind of protection for the local family courts.

    No elected official has been investigated under Mr. Rosen’s DAO management. Perhaps because that investigation would led back to the 2018 elections and emails that reveal what Mr. Rosen’s office was doing during the Persky recall and during his own re- election campaign.

    Santa Clara County Supervisors fund Mr. Rosen’s office to the tune of over $153 million a year. That doesn’t include the costs to spy on jail calls, or buy equipment that Rosen won’t even reveal the model number. Not does it include the millions of dollars Rosen’s office collects in state and federal funds for victims, as Mr. Rosen’s victim claims manager was sexually harassing a subordinate employee. Nor does it factor in that in 2019 a victim of rape and domestic violence was told by Rosen’s Victim Claims Director, Kasey Halcon, that the county could only give her $250 in cash aid.

    Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese wanted victims of rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence to believe the county was helping victims when they offered $5 million , and no plan or disclosure as to how that would actually help anyone. One rape victim reported that what happened to her in our family courts was far worse than what happened to her when she was raped by a stranger.

    The county is gobbling up state and federal money, adding in sprinkles of tax dollars from Silicon Valley tech and social media companies, but doing very little to protect the people who come to work for those companies.

    Don’t be comforted that Mr. Rosen is now prosecuting more rape cases. He won’t actually convict anyone for rape, sexual assault or domestic violence, as the 2016-2017 Grand Jury Report told us. Those cases are always plead out or dismissed. Remember this is the same office that let a mentally ill rapist go , resulting in a 4 day man hunt after a little media pressure was applied and that was in 2019. It is also the same office that dismissed the rape and domestic violence charges against a former 49er football player days after that player paid off the woman who accused him of rape in a related civil case. ( How that was not witness tampering only Mr. Rosen can explain).

    There is no media pressure when it comes to Mr. Rosen’s other failures.

    Rosen’s failure to protect victims of elder abuse, fraud, perjury and forgery. The failure to assure our elected officials do not corrupt our local government and the failure to assure fairness in our local courts.

    Jeff Rosen has failed to protect more victims than any other DA in the history of California. He is no public servant. He instead uses public money and trust for his own self- serving and corrupt motives. Time to look at what Contra Costa and Orange County did when their district attorneys became corrupt.

    Until the public, and the press, start demanding a district attorney investigate and prosecute crimes that harm the majority of residents, we will be stuck with the FAKE news Mr. Rosen’s generates through these reports and his staged press conferences.

    • > Mr. Rosen’s office continues to issue reports designed to advance his political career.

      I don’t trust Jeff Rosen.

      But then, I don’t trust Susan Bassi either.

      Just a hunch, but her rhetoric suggests she might be linked to the George Soros backed claque who are trying to gain political control over local prosecutors.

  2. Santa Clara County residents know quite well JEFF Rosen Office, public officials, judiciaries, and police are part of this rape culture of minimizing and ignoring sexual and violent crimes against women and children. This is the model culture males have in this county. No charge for sexual and violent aggressors. This is particularly the case when those aggressors are DAs, judges, tech guys…RECALL JEFF ROSEN. He has no moral or legal capability to keep the people of this county safe from physical, emotional, and financial harm. He is an expensive liability for this county!

  3. Jeff Rosen, are you going to give a pass the the Gilroy resident former San Jose Police Department Officer and current?…SantaeClara County Sheriff Deputy who attempted to choke his daughter in May 2019?… When she asked for copy of her report at the GPD, she was told your office has it. She gave your office the case number and she was told that it is a Sunnyvale case and her name was not even in the case information! Her mother and ex of this individual reported to you office, GPD, and Morgan Hill family justice DV, Forgery of her signatures after marriage to commit IRS fraud, and this guy watching child porn. He has kept his job! I am sure White Collar Crime has no significance in your damn study. RECALL JEFF ROSEN!

  4. The victim of the Former San José Police officer called Gilroy Police today to ask when she will be able to obtain a copy of the police report of May 2019 about her father attempting to choke her. She was told it might take a year for her to obtain a copy and that if DA’s office presses charges. The victim then called the national domestic violence hotline. 1800-799-7233 The people on the other side were shocked by the Gilroy Police answer and acknowledged they know this happens a lot in California. Yesterday the father was at the victim’s job. Her manager instructed her to stay inside his office until her father would leave. The victim contacted the YWCA different times before asking for assistance with restraining order. There has been no response from these agencies including the DA’s victim unit. They are going to act until this violent predator kills someone. These are the white collar crimes you always ignore Jeff Rosen. Supervising judge Julia A Emede has protected this guy before. Dave Cortese, Cindy Chavez, and Zoe Lofgren have been aware of this DA, judiciary, and law enforcement corruption. They have pretended not to know! RECALL JEFF ROSEN!

  5. Felix,
    You wouldn’t want the police to get involved, some perpetrator might get beat up or shot and the police and city would get sued. Call a crisis manager!

  6. The courts don’t recognize abuse: thousands of long term divorces have one pro per litigant (the abused) and the abuser (who can afford attorneys and more).
    The civil courts NOT recognizing financial abuse, or the abuser buying the kids with permissiveness just perpetuates the abuser.

    Kids without moms have little, if any, conscience.

    This STARTS and is recogniZable in the civil courts.
    When it hits the Criminal Courts/ DA? It’s because it has been condoned.

    The judges in the “Justice Center” keep decimating the parent without representation and continue to financially decimate the parent without means to pay.

    This goes on daily in our antiquated County.

  7. This brings up a really good question:

    With ALLL the money in the Bay Area…..
    Why is there no SEC or White Collar Crime prosecuted anywhere in the Bay Area?

    I doubt it is because people are more “honest”…….

    We need to look into why there is no accountability financially in the famous “Silicon Valley”?

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