Media Archive by Topic: rape kit backlog

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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 Asssault 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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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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