PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The victims came forward one-by-one, according to Providence police, after a 15-year-old girl reported in February that Francis Scott sexually assaulted her in his car while posing as an Uber driver.
After seeing the story on the news, the Attorney General’s office said another woman came forward, claiming he had done the same to her back in 2015. Police said two more victims followed suit, telling investigators they had met Scott on Facebook, accepted rides from him and then were allegedly sexually assaulted as well.
“I think we will see more and more of this, and it will encourage more victims to come forward,” said Peg Langhammer, the executive director of Day One. That organization helps sexual assault survivors with counseling and legal advocacy, often assisting them through each stage of a court proceeding, if the victim chooses to report her or his assailant.
Scott, of North Providence, had little criminal record and no recorded history of violence before the allegations came forward. Now he’s charged with four counts of second-degree sexual assault. Providence police called him a “serial rapist” on Tuesday, and believe more victims may be out there.
“What we know is that many of these perpetrators repeat the crime until they are apprehended,” Langhammer added. “So clearly this individual is one of those types.”
Publicity about sexual assault cases can help other victims gain the courage to come forward, according to Langhammer.
“With the advent of social media and so much more publicity around the issue of sexual assault, the good news is that it really gets the word out there,” she explained. “People who are committing these crimes are made more visible and held more accountable.”
Langhammer said victims often have a number of reasons to not report their assaults.
“People have heard how difficult it is to press charges, they aren’t sure how to navigate the system,” she said.
It’s also common for victims to feel like it was their fault that they got in a car with a person, or were engaged in illegal activity like drug use before the assault.
“It’s never a victim’s fault,” Langhammer said. “No one ever asks to be sexually assaulted.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Day One will be visiting schools and other locations to speak about the problem. The organization is also launching an ad campaign on buses, social media and the radio.
Anyone who needs help can call Day One’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-494-8100.