Sexual Assault Advocates Working to Prevent Abuse During RAGBRAI

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s still a month away but RAGBRAI will be here before you know it.

Routes are being double checked, the pavement is being patched.

This is typically a very safe ride but after a spike of sexual assaults at events in northern Iowa, where this year’s route runs through, the Crisis Intervention Services team is shifting their attention to RAGBRAI riders and their safety.

“We know that often times when alcohol and large crowds combine, sometimes bad things can happen. We want to make sure that we are being proactive about how we can prevent sexual violence,” said Mary Inghram with Crisis Intervention Services of Mason City.

Crisis Intervention Service  serves as advocates for victims of sexual assault in northern Iowa. This year’s route runs right through her district and she’s warning riders that sexual assault predators are known to target gatherings just like this.

“A lot of people, if they want to prey on vulnerable people this is a great place to go.  Small towns with a lot of alcohol.  You can kind of blend in with the crowd.  No one knows when you’re a stranger.  We just want people to be aware,” said Inghram.  

To prevent this from happening, you’ll now see sexual prevention experts at every overnight stop.  You’ll see can koozies, flyers and even urinal splash pads with their name and number on it.  It’s not just a large advocate presence, they are also providing training for local police on how to spot and prevent people from becoming preyed upon.

“To have some bystander intervention training in a couple weeks, that the Clear Lake Police Department will be sending some officers to attend that training as well to see what’s being taught.  Also, being able to bring that message back to our agents,” said Pete Roth, Clear Lake Chief of Police.

“RAGBRAI always has the support and backing of the local police forces, county sheriffs, emergency managers and the Iowa State Patrol working to make the event as safe as possible," said RAGBRAI Director TJ Juskiewicz.

More people will be watching out for predators, than ever this year but Inghram says that may still not be enough, they’ll need your help too.

“Be a good Iowan. If you see something bad happening intervene, try and stop it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that call law enforcement or reach out to someone who can intervene,” said Inghram.