Incest in Idaho reaches five-year high: state police data


The Ada County Courthouse, 200 W. Front St., Boise, Idaho. Reported cases of rape or incest spiked statewide last year, according to crime data collected by Idaho State Police.

Statesman file

Reported cases of incest and rape in Idaho reached a five-year high last year, according to new data released Wednesday.

The Idaho State Police Bureau of Criminal Identification’s “Crime in Idaho” annual report showed 728 cases of rape or attempted rape reported to law enforcement statewide last year. That’s nearly a 12% spike from the previous year, when 651 cases were reported.

The report also totaled 28 cases of incest reported to law enforcement last year. By comparison, 41 cases of incest were reported in the previous four years combined and just three offenses reported in 2020.

Victims of rape or incest who become pregnant will need to file a police report to be exempt from Idaho’s abortion ban, which likely will take effect next month.

About 70% of the rape survivors were 24 years old or under, according to the report.

Abortion exception for rape, incest requires reporting

Idaho’s anti-abortion law outlaws the procedure statewide except in instances when the pregnancy puts the woman’s life at risk or if the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape. The latter exceptions only apply if the crime was reported to police.

State Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, who strongly opposed the abortion ban, said the reporting requirement will exacerbate an already traumatic experience for sexual crime survivors.

“The government has no role in incest, rape, or any decision that a woman is making when she finds herself being impregnated, period,” Wintrow told the Idaho Statesman by phone.

Most incest victims are children, Idaho data shows

Incest, which is prohibited by Idaho law, is “non-forcible sexual intercourse with persons who are related to each other,” according to the report, which included data from local and state law enforcement agencies.

Last year, 24 of Idaho’s reported incest offenses involved children 16 or younger. Twelve of the victims were the children of their offender and 14 of the victims were the siblings of their offender. Nine of the victims were 10 or younger, and 15 of the victims were between 11 and 16 years old. Two arrests resulted from the reported offenses.

For many of the offenses it tracks, such as property crimes, the “Crime in Idaho” report uses incident-based reporting, which means multiple offenses — up to 10 — can be counted within a single crime incident.

But all crimes against persons, including incest, are counted based on the number of victims, meaning there were 28 individual victims of incest in 2021, Tanea Parmenter, Idaho Amber Alert coordinator and Missing Person Clearinghouse program manager for Idaho State Police, told the Idaho Statesman by email.

Parmenter said Idaho State Police does not have research on how often incest is not reported. But most sexual assaults are not reported, according to the Rape and Incest National Network. Wintrow, D-Boise, who has worked with victims of sexual violence, said the same likely is true with incest.

“Imagine if you’re a young child, whether a boy or a girl, and somebody that you’re supposed to trust in your family violates you in the most harmful, intimate way,” Wintrow told the Statesman. “How do you deal with that?”

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Ryan Suppe covers state politics for the Idaho Statesman. He previously covered local government and business in the Treasure Valley and eastern Idaho. Drop him a line at
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