- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Thousands of rape kits in Maryland have not been tested, according to data provided by law enforcement agencies to state officials.

Citing figures obtained under the state Public Information Act, The Baltimore Sun reported (https://bsun.md/2eyuAzR) that police in Maryland have left more than 3,500 of the kits untested.

Advocates for rape victims said that number shows police are not investigating all sexual assault cases thoroughly.

“Sexual assault survivors are often disbelieved or blamed for what happened to them,” said Ilse Knecht, director of policy and advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation, a national nonprofit that advocates for counting and testing all kits. “That definitely plays into this process of not fully investigating cases.”

State lawmakers required police departments to report their figures this year to the attorney general’s office and to explain why kits remain untested. According to law enforcement agencies, victims declining to pursue charges or prosecutors deciding against taking a case are just some of the reasons for not testing kits. Other reasons include if the victim already knew the suspect.

“If there’s no issue about who the person is, then DNA doesn’t really contribute anything,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said.

Montgomery County police reported the most untested rape kits, with 1,165. The Baltimore Police Department came in second with 871 untested kits. Both said some date back to the 1980s.

The attorney general’s office is set to release a report on the numbers in December, along with its recommendation for handling untested kits.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com

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