For weeks there had been no victim, just a man's confession that on June 23 he raped a 16-year-old girl on Old Court Road in Randallstown.
Television and newspaper stories urged the girl to come forward. Baltimore County police distributed fliers throughout the neighborhood. But the girl herself did not come to police; someone else did. The detective working the case learned the girl's name from a co-worker on his off-duty job.
Last week, police found the reluctant girl.
"She knew that we were looking for her," said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman. "She said she was too embarrassed to tell anybody."
That reaction is a typical one, said an expert on sexual assault. And, it explains why experts believe only about 10 percent of all rapes are actually reported to police.
"No matter what the circumstances are, the victims feel like they're going to be blamed," said Cecelia Carroll, executive director of the Sexual Assault Recovery Center in Baltimore. "Part of it is they want as few people as possible to know about it."
Ms. Carroll also said many rape victims don't want to go into a courtroom.
"Very often victims report that a trial makes them feel like they've been raped again," she said.
The victim in this case might have to testify in court.
This week, a Baltimore County grand jury indicted the suspect, Kreskin M. Torres, 23, on a charge of first-degree rape. Mr. Torres, of the 700 block of E. 20th St., is being held without bail in the Baltimore County Detention Center.
Police initially used Mr. Torres' confession and other evidence about the alleged attack to charge him with first-degree rape, even though they hadn't found a victim. Scott Shellenberger, an assistant state's attorney, said the county could have prosecuted Mr. Torres, even without knowing the victim's identity.
"It would have been difficult, but not legally impossible," he said.
According to a police report, Mr. Torres told a pastor about the rape the day after it occurred. The pastor encouraged him to turn himself in.
In his confession, Mr. Torres told police he followed the girl down Old Court Road around 3 p.m. on June 23. He tried to talk to her, but she kept walking. Mr. Torres said he grabbed the girl and told her he would stab her if she struggled. The victim was forced to the side of a house and raped.
He told police he used a condom during the attack and had left it and the wrapper at the scene. Those items were recovered when Mr. Torres showed detectives where the attack occurred.
Ms. Carroll, of the sexual assault center, disagreed with the way police tried to get the young girl to come forward. Such actions, she said, could put "an additional trauma and additional pressure" on the victim.
"They looked for her like they would for people on America's Most Wanted," she said. "We believe in choice. She chose not to make a report. This takes the control away from her."