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Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office Praised For Clearing Untested Rape Kit Backlog

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After releasing a report about thousands of untested rape kits, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale toured the Allegheny County medical examiner's office Tuesday.

It's one of three crime labs responsible for rape kit testing.

The lab inside the Allegheny County medical examiner's office is being praised as one of the best in the country. It gained that reputation from its quick work analyzing rape kits needed to catch assailants. The lab has done such a good job clearing the backlog of rape kits that it's getting state and national attention.

"We've got a very resourceful group in terms of finding resources through grants to be able to do it," Allegheny County medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams said.

That success brought Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to the medical examiner's office for a tour. The Auditor General is gravely concerned about the more than 3,000 untested rape kits statewide. He believes the backlog is delaying justice for victims.

"95 percent of rapists are serial rapists," DePasquale said. "So not only not catching them there prevents justice there, but it can also stop law enforcement from preventing future rapes."

Rape kits generally contain hair samples, pap smears and DNA evidence taken from victims by doctors. They can pinpoint suspects through DNA evidence. There is hope that state lawmakers will help.

"Perhaps enabling legislation to allow the county to collect extra fees to fund this crime lab," Pa. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler said.

"Hiring literally a couple of people in this lab here would go a huge way toward helping solve the statewide problem," DePasquale said.

While some cities have a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits, Allegheny County has a little more than a hundred. But as the Auditor General says, just one untested rape kit is too many.

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