Seven reported rapes now are being investigated by the Athens and Ohio University police departments.

Six reports of rape, on the Ohio University main campus and off campus, have been filed with the two police departments since the fall semester began in late August. Athens police reported Monday that they took a new report on Friday from a woman who said she had been raped in May on the city's south side by someone she knows.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Monday that the number of reports doesn't necessarily mean that sexual assaults are increasing, but that more people are reporting them.

"Part of it is awareness," Blackburn said. "There has been a massive effort by our office, OU, the Athens Police Department and the Survivor Advocacy Program at OU to try to put an end to sexual violence. There's a level of confidence in the system that is increasing the total number of reports."

The Athens and Ohio University police departments combined took 62 rape reports in 2016, compared with 41 in 2015, according to The Athens News.

"We have had a much larger number of sexual assaults reported," Blackburn said. "And I think that sexual assault is often underreported."

Detectives with the city and the university police departments are working together to investigate whether any of the recent cases are related, but it's too soon to know, the departments' police chiefs said in a joint statement earlier this month.

mlane@dispatch.com

@MaryBethLane1