- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Law enforcement agencies in Nebraska have started using the FBI’s definition of sexual assault when recording crime data to provide a clearer picture of the state’s sexual violence.

The new, broader definition includes same-sex assaults, forcible penetration with an object, female-on-male assaults and an array of other assaults not covered under the previous definition. The old definition’s focus was male-on-female assaults.

Police say the new definition will not affect how sex crimes are investigated and prosecuted, because state law already uses a broader definition, The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2jmu5L9 ) reports.

The FBI updated its sexual assault definition in January 2013. The Nebraska Crime Commission told local law enforcement agencies in June 2016 to begin using the broader definition by Jan. 1. Omaha Police Department Capt. Kerry Neumann said the department continued to use the old definition through the end of 2016 to make sure that year’s statistics were consistent.

The new definition is expected to show a jump in rape statistics.

Emily Wright, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said the way society thinks of sexual assault is evolving.

“We are more knowledgeable about how you can be sexually assaulted, and by who,” Wright said. “Broadening the definition is certainly a good thing, and it is going to give us a better idea of what is going on in Nebraska.”

Amy Richardson, CEO of the Women’s Center for Advancement in Omaha, praised the change.

“The definition in everyone’s mind is so narrow,” Richardson said. “It always helps to have a broader - yet specific - definition that law enforcement can react to, that medical staff can react to.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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