- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A new study found that Utah is so far behind in processing rape kits that only about one-third of the samples taken from 2010-2013 had been tested by the end of last year.

That means that sexual assault evidence for 1,160 rape kits are still waiting to be processed, according to the study released Thursday by Brigham Young University.

Two years ago, the public pressured Utah to speed up rape kit testing, which resulted in the state setting aside about $3 million for private labs to test some of the accumulated evidence.

But BYU nursing professor and report author Julie Valentine said the problem has continued.

She has called the backlog a “public safety issue,” and is pushing for Utah to pass a law that would make it mandatory for Utah to test all evidence, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1SjV4hg).

Jay Henry of the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services said they’re working to get through the stockpile of evidence and expects to be done by summer 2017.

The university report tracked about 1,870 rape kits earmarked for law enforcement.

The findings indicated that law enforcement was more likely to process evidence from male sexual assault victims and victims who were unknowingly drugged. They were much less likely to process samples if the victim showered before the examination, knew the suspect or had purposefully used drugs prior to the assault.

Utah’s law enforcement takes about 60 percent longer than other parts of the country to send rape evidence to crime labs, according to the report.

When victims’ rape kits aren’t tested, they are denied justice, said Valentine.

For example, after a private lab tested about 400 rape kits, they came away with 51 suspect leads.

Valentine said only about 12 percent of rape victims actually report the crime.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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