CBS Finds More Rape Kits Sit Untested

Untested rape kits, that could contain incriminating DNA evidence, have never been sent to crime labs for testing. CBS

CBS News has learned that the San Diego Police Department has more than 2,000 untested rape kits in storage that have not been sent to the city's crime lab.

A CBS News investigation uncovered thousands of rape kits nationwide that had never been sent to crime labs and thousands more waiting to be tested in city and state laboratories.

"The San Diego Police Department has a remarkably good sex crimes unit, so if there's any chance that testing a kit could lead to a successful prosecution then we test it," said Michael Grubb, San Diego PD Crime Lab Manager. According to Grubb, the department has 2,065 rape kits in storage that were never sent to the crime lab.

"The news of untested rape kits in San Diego is more evidence that the rape kit backlog is a widespread problem across the country that requires a strong national response," said Sarah Tofte researcher at Human Rights Watch's US Program. "Untested rape kits mean lost justice for rape victims, and San Diego must move quickly to eliminate their backlog," she said.

Grubb said that there are currently 30 kits that have been sent to their crime lab and are waiting to be processed. He says the average turnaround time is 60 days. Grubb noted that his lab analyzes evidence for about 200 sexual assault cases each year.

Grubb told CBS News in an email that if a prosecutor is not taking the case to court, then the kit is not tested. Grubb maintains it is unnecessary to test kits in acquaintance cases where the suspect is known.

"Many times there is no question of identity, it is only a question of consent. He says it was consensual, she says it was a rape - but there is no dispute as to whose DNA will be found. In those cases, we are not asked to examine the kit," Grubb told CBS in an email.

However, Los Angeles and New York, test all rape kits - even in cases where the suspect's identity is not in question .

"We have lots of situations where a domestic situation or an acquaintance situation is actually an indication of the male involved responsible for other rapes," said Dr. Mecki Prinz, laboratory director at New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner. New York City has an arrest rate of 70% for rape which is almost three times the national average.

Prinz says one case could be connected to other assaults, "One of our motives is that we would like to generate a DNA profile to compare it to other cases in our database because it is our experience that a person who is accused of a date rape or an acquaintance rape could also be the true perpetrator in another stranger case." Research has shown that 71% of rapists are serial offenders.

Los Angeles had a backlog of 12,000 untested rape kits in storage. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is now testing the kits in the backlog and has found over 405 DNA "hits" that led to suspect identifications. According to Captain Kevin McClure who runs Homicide, Robbery and all sex crimes for the LAPD, "Our rule is that all sexual assault evidence kits are tested."

Following a CBS News investigation that revealed 5,191 untested kits at the San Antonio Police Department in Texas, the department announced it will now test all kits from stranger rapes. The Department did not respond to questions as to why it was not following the lead of New York and Los Angeles and testing all rape kits.
  • Laura Strickler

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