Media Archive by Topic: rape kit backlog

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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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Jefferson County to test backlogged rape kits with new $1.5 million grant
July 20, 2017 • AL.com
Ivana Hrynkiw

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office doesn't know how many untested rape kits they have-- but they plan to find out, and test them all.

According to information from the district attorney's office, there have been more than 27,000 rapes in Alabama in the past 19 years. Of those, 21 percent took place in Jefferson County. 

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Law: North Carolina police must inventory untested rape kits
June 29, 2017 • Associated Press
Christina Sandidge

No one knows how many untested rape kits have been shelved by local police departments throughout North Carolina, leaving victims to wonder if their cases will ever be solved, and leaving perpetrators free to strike again. A new law aims to change that by year's end.

The state budget, enacted this week following a veto override, requires that local law enforcement agencies take inventory of the kits they have and report their findings to the State Crime Lab by January 1.

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30 years after assault, Michelle Bowdler discovered her rapists' DNA was never tested
July 11, 2017 • MassLive
Melissa Hanson

Michelle Bowdler will never know the identities of the two men who broke into her Boston apartment and raped her more than 30 years ago, even though they may have left crucial DNA evidence behind.

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'Law and Order' Star Testifies About Rape Kits, Sexual Violence to Congress
June 16, 2017 • NBC New York
NBC New York

Mariska Hargitay, who plays the tough, dogged lead on "Law & Order: SVU," testified on behalf of real-life rape survivors Friday in front of a task force on sexual violence in the Capitol.

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How Can We Solve America's Backlogged Rape Kit Problem?
May 11, 2017 • Glamour
Cady Drell

Someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. That's a number big and scary enough that you'd think it would be a compelling argument for doing something about it, and yet sexual assault cases rarely even go to trial, let alone lead to a conviction. One part of the problem: It's estimated that 175,000 sexual assault evidence kits — often referred to as "rape kits" — remain untested in evidence storage facilities around the country. 

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Mariska Hargitay’s Doc ‘I Am Evidence’ Is An Eye-Opening Look At The Rape Kit Backlog
May 2, 2017 • The Huffington Post
Stephanie Marcus

If you were to watch almost any episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” it’s likely that some form of sexual assault would take place, the victim would be given a rape kit at the hospital, and the dedicated detectives investigating would send the kit off to be tested for DNA evidence.

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How Mariska Hargitay's 'Law & Order' Role Spurred HBO's Sexual Assault Doc
April 24, 2017 • The Hollywood Reporter
Ashley Lee

After 18 years of starring in Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay is taking on sexual assault offscreen.

The star of NBC’s long-running procedural series is a producer of I Am Evidence, a new documentary highlighting the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States. The dormant status of these kits, some of which have been left in police evidence storage rooms for decades, mirrors the pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault victims. Meanwhile, perpetrators are never held accountable for their crimes.

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Eagle Club Indoor Golf Raises More Than $10K For Actress Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation
April 11, 2017 • Patch
Nikki Gaskins

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Eagle Club Indoor Golf is excited to announce the recent success of its first ever “Drive-A-Thon” fundraiser. On March 31st and April 1st, San Francisco’s #1 spot for indoor golf culminated its quarter long fundraising campaign with a drive-a-thon to benefit Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives. The money raised—$10,200 total—will benefit the non-profit’s “End the Backlog” campaign.

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Assault survivors have waited too long
March 4, 2017 • Albuquerque Journal
Jayann Sepich and Ilse Knecht

Every year, thousands of individuals who have been sexually assaulted take the step of reporting the crime to the police. They submit to an examination of their body and have evidence collected in a process that typically takes four to six hours. The evidence is saved in a “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit” – a rape kit.

DNA evidence is an invaluable investigative tool. When tested, communities can identify serial perpetrators, take dangerous offenders off the streets, exonerate the innocent and prevent future crimes.

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Editorial: A rape kit calamity
February 20, 2017 • Savannah Morning News
Savannah Morning News

Joanie is a Missouri woman who was brutally raped in 1991 by a man she didn’t know and then was virtually ignored by the criminal justice system.

Fortunately, her attacker was eventually caught and sent to prison, thanks to persistent officials in that state who made sure the rape kit taken after her attack was tested and the results shared.

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Let’s Talk About It: ‘Hundreds of thousands’ of rape kits are sitting on shelves
January 9, 2017 • Ionia Sentinel-Standard
DomesticShelters.org

It was traumatic enough that in 1996, at just 17 years old, Helena was raped repeatedly by a stranger who approached her at a self-service car wash, pressing a knife to her throat before forcing her to drive to an abandoned truck yard. What followed was 13 years of being ignored by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Her rape kit—collected the same day that her rapist assaulted her, held her hostage, then freed her after threatening to kill her family if she went to police—sat on a shelf somewhere gathering dust for over a decade.

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Attorney General's report calls for statewide standards on rape kits
January 3, 2017 • The Baltimore Sun
Alison Knezevich

Police in Maryland should test nearly all rape kits, notify victims of the results and store the kits for a fixed period of time, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said.

A report issued to lawmakers by Frosh's office Tuesday said a lack of statewide guidelines on when to test rape kits and how long to keep them has resulted in police departments adopting inconsistent policies. Some keep the kits indefinitely, but others throw them out.

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A flawed, inconsistent police response to sexual assault in Maryland
December 3, 2016 • The Baltimore Sun
Catherine Rentz and Alison Knezevich

Catherine Becket hadn't forgotten that evening three years ago in her Parkville apartment, though she tried.

Then, as she watched with outrage while Stanford University student Brock Turner served three months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, she resolved to confront her own memories. She called Baltimore County police this summer about reopening her sexual assault case.

But she soon discovered that would be difficult.

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Feds Kick In $38M More to Fight Rape-Kit Backlog
September 21, 2016 • Courthouse News Service
Nick Divito

Two years after shocking revelations about 70,000 rape kits that went unprocessed across the country for decades, the United States committed another $38 million on Monday to expand testing.

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SVU's Mariska Hargitay on Vice President Joe Biden's Guest Role and THAT Premiere Shocker
September 21, 2016 • People
Lanford Beard

Mariska Hargitay has had to portray a lock of terrifying, disturbing scenarios in 17 seasons on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but the actress and mother of three was especially impacted by one shocking scene in the season 18 premiere. 

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An Incomprehensible Failure
September 20, 2016 • The Huffington Post
Sarah Haacke Byrd

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice released its much-anticipated report about policing practices in Baltimore, Maryland. Included in their examination is scathing evidence that victims of sexual assault in the city are denied equal and full access to the law.

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A disturbing trend: evidence in rape cases often goes untested
August 2016 • Seattle Magazine
Elaine Porterfield
The backlog of untested rape kits goes back years, and it's hindering the justice process. read more
Ohio Supreme Court reverses decision in Cleveland rape kit case that drew national attention
July 27, 2016 • Cleveland.com
Rachel Dissell

CLEVELAND, Ohio –The Ohio Supreme Court today unanimously reversed the decision of a Cleveland appeals court in a rape kit case being watched across the country.

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Inside the national effort to combat the rape kit backlog – and how Detroit Is leading the fight
June 9, 2016 • People
Diana Pearl

After Natasha Alexenko was raped and robbed at gunpoint in New York City in 1993, her first instinct was to try to wash the experience off her.

"It was an ordeal that changed my life forever," she says. "And your first instinct after you've been assaulted – at least mine – was to take a hot shower."  

..

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Tempe sending around 500 sexual-assault kits, some dating to the early '90s, for testing
June 8, 2016 • AZ Central
Chris Coppola
The kits are being tested because they never were submitted or need to be checked again with new methods. read more
Advocates praise senate bill on sexual assault victims’ rights
may 24, 2016 • The New York Times
Emmarie Huetteman

WASHINGTON — Advocates for victims of sexual assault on Tuesday praised the Senate’s unanimous approval of a bill that would establish a set of rights for victims, including the right to be informed of the results of forensic tests and to have evidence preserved.

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Key legislators approve amended version of bill to test rape kits
April 30, 2016 • Honolulu Star Advertiser
Sophie Cocke

Hawaii’s police departments will likely be required to take action on hundreds of rape kits that have sat in storage facilities for years, as well as new rape kits, after key lawmakers Friday agreed to an amended version of House Bill 1907.

The bill gained traction after the Honolulu Police Department revealed in February that it had 1,500 untested kits that contain forensic evidence from rape victims. The untested kits, which could help solve crimes and catch serial rapists, date back more than a decade.

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