Joyful Heart in the News
New National Initiative on Rape Kits
Last fall, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reported rapists nationwide are getting away with their crimes, because tens of thousands of rape kits are going untested. The issue reached Capitol Hill Thursday, and the outrage was loud and clear.
The star of the hearing turned out to be the central figure in our rape kit investigation, Valerie Neumann.
Neumann testified how her 21st birthday ended in rape. One nightmare was followed by another.
"What was perhaps hardest is that my case was closed without my rape kit being tested," she said.
The reason? A "judgment call" by a local prosecutor involving cost and the fact that alcohol was involved. These reasons only served to inflame the subcommittee.
New York Congressmen Anthony Weiner raked the prosecutor in the case over the coals.
"If he doesn't think he can win the case with a witness and a rape kit, then I don't know how you make yourself a prosecutor," Rep. Weiner said.
Rep. Weiner was so irate, he made this remarkable offer. "If it is for want of a thousand bucks, I think among my colleagues here on this panel we'll raise the money."
Back in November, CBS News first reportedon the staggering number: more than 20,000 untested rape kits nationwide were never sent to crime labs. Another 6,000 in crime labs were waiting months, even years, to be tested.
Actress Mariska Hargitay, who plays a sex crimes detective on television's "Law and Order, SVU" also testified. She offered emotional evidence of how, in real life, thousands of rape victims have reached out to her for help.
"I remember my breath going out of me when the first letter came," Hargitay said.
She turned into an advocatefor breaking the backlog in untested kits.
"They must all be tested. We are consciously letting criminals walk again," she said.