Joyful Heart in the News

Rape Kit Testing Still Languishes

January 21, 2014
The Chicago Tribune
Kay Manning

As a rape crisis counselor in college, Julie Smolyansky saw sexual assault victims get swabbed, probed and photographed, heaping humiliation on top of humiliation to collect evidence that she believed would lead to justice being served.

Then she learned that hundreds of thousands of these evidence kits were never analyzed across the country, robbing women of the chance to ease their fears through the identification and arrest of their attackers, and putting other women at risk because offenders tend to rape again and again.

"I was outraged. I'd heard of the backlog but didn't realize how extensive it was," said Smolyansky, CEO of Morton Grove-based Lifeway Foods Inc. "The health of women was being thrown to the side. These assaults are horrific. I began to ask what can I do."

She and her husband, jewelry designer Jason Burdeen, started Test400K in March. The nonprofit is named after the number of rape kits estimated to be languishing without analysis nationwide... Test400K joins at least two other national organizations — Natasha's Justice Project, whose namesake was raped at gunpoint in New York City, and Joyful Heart Foundation, started by actress Mariska Hargitay of TV's "Law and Order: SVU" — in trying to change how law enforcement and society in general view sexual assault.

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