NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There are new questions being raised about when police in North Texas knew, or at least suspected, that a serial rapist was targeting members of a sorority alumnae group.
Since November of 2010, sexual assaults in Plano, Coppell and Corinth have been connected.
While Plano police continue searching for a suspected serial rapist, on Thursday they also their handling of the investigation.
Authorities dismissed suggestions that later attacks could have been prevented if they had informed the community sooner.
“No, I do not believe we could have… at all,” said Plano police Lt. David Tilley. “Aside from catching this guy, I don’t believe there was anything we could have done to prevent it.”
Members of a local advocacy group agree with Lt. Tilley and say the only person that could have stopped the attacks was the man that committed them.
Experts at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center also said the victim’s shouldn’t feel guilty for being attacked.
Crisis center executive director Jana Barker said, “She could not have prevented it. If he was determined to rape her, he would do it.”
Barker went on to say that the secrecy and stigma that surround sexual assault only helps the attacker.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s not about sex. It’s about violence. If somebody came up and just beat you up, would you be ashamed to tell about it? I’m thinking probably not,” she said.
Plano police acknowledged that they suspected as early as April– following a second attack in their city– that the suspect was targeting alumnae members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
In June, Plano police released video of their suspect in the earlier attack, but didn’t mention their suspicions of a sorority connection. Police said they didn’t make the reference because the suspect was not targeting the general public.
Police said they did notify local Delta alumnae, and offered personal safety assessments. Still, critics feel they could have done more.
“I don’t think it’s fair and I think if people could appreciate what’s going on behind the scenes, I think they would appreciate it a little bit more, I really do,” Lt. Tilley said of the skeptics.
The North Texas Crime Commission’s Crime Stoppers program is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information in the case.
Anyone with information about should contact Crime Stoppers at (214) 373-TIPS (8477).