Media Archive by Topic: rape kit backlog

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I AM EVIDENCE examines problem of untested rape kits
April 16, 2018 • CNN
Brian Lowry

After years starring in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mariska Hargitay is now highlighting the subject matter in a new way by producing I AM EVIDENCE, a sobering and timely look at the way rape kits have been left to languish, a policy decision with the ghastly effect of enabling serial perpetrators to continue assaulting women.

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Mariska Hargitay’s new documentary shines light on epidemic of untested rape kits
April 13, 2018 • NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News

The HBO documentary ‘I am Evidence,’ produced by actress Mariska Hargitay, follows women who reported sexual assaults and provided DNA evidence but discovered it was never tested.

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The rape kit backlog shows exactly how we regard women in this country
April 13, 2018 • HuffPost
Alanna Vagianos

There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits currently sitting in police storage across the country. So, how did we get here?

That’s the question actress and activist Mariska Hargitay answers in her new HBO documentary “I Am Evidence,” set to air April 16. The film, co-produced by the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star and Trish Adlesic, and co-directed by Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir, takes a human approach to an epidemic that has reduced survivors, their stories and their trauma to a box of evidence. 

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A shocking number of rape kits are untested—Mariska Hargitay wants to change that
March 30, 2018 • People
Kate Coyne

Mariska Hargitay has been investigating crimes as Olivia Benson on Law & Order for almost two decades. And now she’s fighting for real-life justice to end rape-kit backlog, which is the subject of her new HBO documentary, I Am Evidence.

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California lawmakers introduce bills to end rape kit backlog
March 12, 2018 • KCRA
Kathy Park

As thousands of sexual assault victims wait for their rape kits to be tested, California lawmakers are taking renewed action to eliminate the backlog.

Ahead of Monday's private screening of the upcoming HBO documentary, "I Am Evidence," which exposes the rape kit backlog across the country and shares stories of sexual assault survivors, California legislators detailed their efforts to bring justice to victims.

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The problem with rape kits
March 8, 2018 • Splinter
Lux Alptraum

The original brilliance of the rape kit stemmed from the then-novel realization that the body of “a survivor of rape is a crime scene and there’s valuable evidence there,” says Ilse Knecht, policy and advocacy director for the Joyful Heart Foundation.

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A wrenching dilemma
February 20, 2018 • The Washington Post
Jessica Contrera

Across the country, decades’ worth of rape kits are finally being tested, but no one can agree on what to do next. A story of good intentions—and government blunders.

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Rape is the only crime where the victim is treated like a suspect, investigator says
February 19, 2018 • Fox News 29 San Antonio
Yami Virgin

Texas Chief Investigator and Sexual Assault Investigation Trainer, Wayne Springer, says an officer’s job is to collect and send the facts, not pass judgment. “This is the only crime you'll ever see that the victim becomes the accused almost instantly,” Springer explains.

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Heartbreaking PSA highlights the massive backlog of untested rape kits
February 13, 2018 • HuffPost
Alanna Vagianos

A new public service announcement is shining a much-needed light on the thousands of rape kits that go untested every year in the U.S.

The Joyful Heart Foundation, which created the PSA, estimates that hundreds of thousands of rape kits are sitting untested in law enforcement facilities around the country due to the lack of resources and funding. “Shelved” lays out in 60 seconds the far-reaching impacts of this backlog.

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Wisconsin DOJ contracts with 2 more labs to test kits
February 5, 2018 • Associated Press
Associated Press

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is contracting with two more private labs to analyze untested sexual assault kits.

The Joyful Heart Foundation has been pushing states to analyze untested kits in hopes of developing DNA profiles for serial offenders. Nearly 4,000 Wisconsin kits have been designated for testing. Analysis has been completed on 862 kits so far.

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In unusual step, victims told of destroyed NC rape kits
January 1, 2018 • Associated Press
Associated Press

When Veronica was raped more than 13 years ago, she says neither the police nor the hospital staff believed her story that a longtime friend attacked her while his mother was in the next room.

“I was treated like a female crying wolf,” said Veronica, who says the man raped her while she was unconscious. She believes he drugged her drink.

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Lawsuit expands allegations that city of Houston didn't properly investigate rapes
December 25, 2017 • San Antonio Express-News
Robert Downen

A woman who waited five years for charges to be filed against her alleged rapist is suing the city of Houston, accusing authorities of showing "deliberate indifference" by failing to investigate a backlog of rape kits that could have identified her attacker much earlier.

Beverly Flores last week joined a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in September by another former Houston resident, DeJenay Beckwith. The two women seek damages, saying officials violated their due process and equal protection rights.

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Detroit’s rape kit backlog identified more than 800 serial rapists
December 19, 2017 • The Daily Dot
Samantha Grasso

Detroit’s eight-year dive into its untested rape kit backlog identified more than 800 serial rapists, illustrating the importance for law enforcement to take sexual violence seriously as part of the “Me Too” movement empowering survivors around the world.

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I AM EVIDENCE—Time for justice!
December 13, 2017 • HuffPost
Caroline Hart

If you believe in justice for the victims of sexual abuse, then make Mariska Hargitay’s HBO documentary - I AM EVIDENCE - coming to HBO in the next few months - a priority to watch. It will enrage you to know that over 400,000 rape kits in the USA have remained untested, leaving victims without justice and predators on the loose to rape again.

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Schimel: Flood of submissions slowing sexual assault kit testing
December 6, 2017 • Associated Press
Associated Press

Attorney General Brad Schimel says a glut of submissions nationwide is slowing progress on analyzing thousands of untested sexual assault kits on Wisconsin police department shelves.

The Joyful Heart Foundation has been pushing states to analyze untested kits in hopes of developing DNA profiles for serial offenders.

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Why 5,396 sexual assault kits went untested in Indiana
December 1, 2017 • The Indianapolis Star
Marisa Kwiatkowski

There are 5,396 sexual assault kits held in police custody that have not been tested, according to the results of an Indiana State Police audit.

State senators had adopted a resolution in April that urged State Police to count the number of untested sexual assault kits throughout the state and determine reasons why they were not tested.

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Mariska Hargitay and ‘I Am Evidence’ want to eliminate the rape kit backlog
November 29, 2017 • IndieWire
Jean Bentley

When Mariska Hargitay landed the role of Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she had no idea that it would turn her into an activist for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. But in 2017, almost two decades after the long-running show began, she’s helped spearhead a mission to eliminate the rape-kit backlog in the U.S. — and has produced a documentary with HBO and her former SVU coworker Trish Adlesic called “I Am Evidence” that helps bring the issue to light.

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Missouri rape kit audit set to be done in early 2018
November 27, 2017 • Associated Press
Associated Press

The Missouri Attorney General's Office says it hopes to determine by early next year how many untested rape kits are on shelves in Missouri, a first step in an effort to improve the state's response to sexual assault.

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Locals, lawmaker speak out about Georgia’s rape kit backlog
November 18, 2017 • Savannah Morning News
Brittini Ray

It’s been four years since Paige Bullard was sexually assaulted on Savannah State University’s campus, but her journey as a rape victim advocate is just getting started.

And she says one of the biggest lessons that she has learned is that “what happened to her did not have to happen to someone else.”

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Mass. House approves proposal to create tracking system for untested rape kits and evaluate backlog
November 15, 2017 • MassLive
Scott J. Croteau

The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a proposal to overhaul the state's policy for tracking and testing rape kits.

The proposal was adopted as an amendment to the criminal justice reform bill passed Tuesday night. House Minority Leader Bradley Jones Jr. proposed the amendment, which calls for the creation of a rape kit tracking system with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

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Private film screening highlights problem of unexamined sexual assault kits
October 24, 2017 • WIBW News
WIBW News Now

Following the I AM EVIDENCE screening, Wayne County, Michigan Prosecutor Kym Worthy facilitated a discussion about the value of testing sexual assault kit evidence and establishing a victim-centered approach to sexual assault response.

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Federal Dollars Help Clear Untested Rape Kits
October 6, 2017 • News LI
Andrea Sears

New York City is getting some federal help to eliminate its backlog of untested rape kits.

The Justice Department’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is distributing $34 million to 20 jurisdictions around the country. The grants will help test kits that have often sat in evidence lockers for years, prosecute those identified by DNA analysis, and keep victims informed.

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Former Houston woman sues city, officials over 6,000 untested rape kits
September 25, 2017 • Houston Chronicle
Gabrielle Banks

A former Houston woman is suing the City of Houston and a long list of current and former mayors and police chiefs for failing to investigate a backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits, and not identifying her attacker as a man who had been in a national police database for decades.

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Untested rape exam kits number thousands in Indiana
September 20, 2017 • The Indiana Lawyer
Dave Stafford

Like many states, Indiana has a problem — mountains of untested rape exam kits in local law enforcement agencies that contain DNA evidence potentially identifying sex offenders. Indiana’s backlog of untested kits is certainly in the thousands. Victim advocates say the question is, how many thousands?

No one can accurately answer that question — at least not until Dec. 1. That’s when a report to lawmakers is due from Indiana State Police, detailing the number of untested kits warehoused by law enforcement agencies around the state.

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Bill Introduced to Reduce National Rape Kit Backlog
September 6, 2017 • KTVN Channel 2
KTVN Channel 2

A bill called the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act was introduced today and will reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

This legislation would also ensure pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, highlighting the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.

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