Daily Archives: July 25, 2019

Launching the first statewide rape kit tracking system

In 2014, Idaho began a new journey in handling sexual assault kits (SAKs). I had heard the stories about backlogged SAKs coming out of Detroit, Los Angeles and Houston. Because of my role in the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations, a national advocacy group, I knew legislation was on the horizon. Therefore, I initiated a statewide effort for an informal survey of kits at law enforcement agencies in our state.

A decades-old rape test sent him to prison. Then his high school girlfriend saw an old photograph.

The discovery horrified Detroit, and the nation: More than 11,000 rape kits were sitting untested in a police warehouse, in some cases gathering dust for decades before prosecutors stumbled upon the boxes in 2009.
One in particular had been collected in November 1997, when a 15-year-old girl came to police with a harrowing tale. After she left a store on Detroit’s east side, she said, a stranger lunged at her. He put a gun to her head and covered her head with a rag, then dragged her into an alleyway, where he raped her. A nurse performed a sexual assault examination, but the evidence went untouched for nearly two decades, until the untested rape kits became a national scandal. In 2015, prosecutors working their way through the backlog finally sent it out for testing.