Following a CBS News investigation on untested rape evidence, Senators asked Attorney General Eric Holder today if the Justice Department will do more to ensure that untested evidence in rape cases is processed and analyzed by crime labs.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said he was disturbed to have recently learned that despite federal funding "substantial backlogs remain."
Holder responded, "Mr. Chairman, I not only pledge that we should, we have to work on this. For every crime that remains unsolved, there is a rapist who is potentially still out there and ready to strike again. The Justice Department looks forward to working with this committee to come up with a way in which we do away with that backlog."
In response to the CBS News story on rape kits, the San Antonio Police Department changed its policy so it will now test all rape kits from cases where the victim did not know the attacker. The department also confirmed to CBS it will go back and test 178 kits from stranger rapes that it had not tested in the past.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) told CBS News that in response to the CBS story on rape kits online sessions with their National Sexual Assault Online Hotline increased by 53%.
"Stories on topics such as this have the potential to trigger difficult memories for those who have been affected by sexual violence, that's why it's critical that viewers are provided with information on how to get help, and what to do if they've been sexually assaulted," says Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN.