Some of the kits date back “as far back as we could tell, all the way to 2005,” said Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez. “It’s an alarming amount of time. It’s an alarming amount of rape kits.”
Collected during a forensic medical exam after a sexual assault is reported, rape kits often contain physical evidence such as samples of bodily fluids, fibers, hair, and blood; documentation papers; photos; and clothing. Processing the kits for DNA evidence can sometimes quickly match assailants to victims.
Ninety-four such kits were found in a refrigerator in Hollywood, where according to FBI data compiled by neighbourhoodscout.com, 38 rapes were reported last year. WSVN reports that so far, 24 of the lost kits have been identified as top priorities and transported to a lab at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and some arrests have already been made.
Unfortunately, reports of lost or backlogged rape kits is nothing new. In Robbins, Illinois, a sheriff’s aide discovered 176 rape kits dating back to 1986 in a jumbled pile of evidence in a basement. More than 1,000 forgotten rape kits were found in Detroit Police storage last year, just several years after approximately 11,303 untested rape kits were uncovered in the same city during an inventory.
In Texas, Carol Bart’s rape kit sat untested for nearly two decades before it was finally processed, identifying her attacker through DNA analysis. But the statute of limitations on her case was up.
“Women go to the hospital and their bodies are a crime scene and treated as such,” Bart told the Associated Press last year. “For these kits then to just to sit in a laboratory or in police vaults or wherever they sit, denies victims of sexual assault any opportunity for justice. I just wonder how many more there are?” The Huffington Post
- Legislator Pushes For Stricter Rape Kit Testing Procedures(wreg.com)
- More than 5K untested Ohio rape kits submitted(wcpo.com)
- Memphis Sued for Ignoring 15K Rape Kits(newser.com)
- Rape Victims Sue Police Over Decade-Long Rape Kit Backlog(mintpressnews.com)