In the last year, Seattle Police have forwarded far fewer sex assault cases to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Meanwhile, arrests for sex crimes involving adults and children have plummeted: This year so far, 1.6% of cases investigated by the sexual assault and child abuse unit have resulted in an arrest, down from 14% in 2019.

In March, outside of arrests, not a single sexual assault case involving an adult victim was assigned to a detective, according to documentation provided by a Seattle Police employee to KUOW.

The Seattle Police Department says there are fewer officers to investigate these crimes. Two anonymous Seattle Police employees agreed that employee retention is part of the problem; 16% of Seattle officers are on leave. Others have left permanently. But it’s not the only reason, they say.

Four detectives handle sexual assault and child abuse cases in Seattle currently. Crimes against children are the highest priority, because Washington state law requires investigation into these crimes, whereas adult sex assault reports have a longer window in which officers may begin investigating them.

“Our child cases are increasing due to the fact that children are coming back to school from Covid,” the Seattle Police employee said. “There's more reporting, and we are seeing an aggressive level of child abuse than we have seen previously.”