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Assault survivors have waited too long

March 4, 2017
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

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

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
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
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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Rape survivors face resistance in fight to test rape kit backlog

May 29, 2014
Meredith Clark
After San Francisco resident Heather Marlowe was drugged and raped at the city’s annual Bay to Breakers race in May 2010, she trusted local police to process her rape kit–the evidence collected during a forensic exam–and update her if any leads turned up. When they didn’t call for more than a year, she began researching why.
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Being Raped In A Bankrupt City

March 27, 2014
Emily Orley
Wayne County, Mich., the region where Detroit is located, has been riddled with problems for decades. But when a massive backlog of rape kits was discovered, a few mighty voices decided to work on changing the way sexual assault is viewed and how victims are treated, while also opening every single kit.
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Mariska Hargitay Says Thank You For Funding Rape Kit Backlog

March 6, 2014
Maria Mooney
ENDTHEBACKLOG is a part of the Joyful Heart Foundation’s initiative to end the injustice of untested rape kits, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed.
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States fight rape kit backlog

February 25, 2014
Erin Delmore
States across the country are proposing and enacting legislation to tackle the estimated 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide.
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Work to end the rape kit backlog

August 30, 2013
Sarah Tofte
Every year, thousands of individuals take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police.
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