GBI: Backlog of 3,000 rape kits cleared since 2016 law
ATLANTA (AP) — More than 3,000 rape kits found untested in police evidence lockers have all undergone lab tests by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation less than three years after state legislature passed a law to eliminate the backlog, the GBI’s director and the lawmaker who spearheaded the measure announced Friday.
DNA tests on the rape kits — some of which languished for 15 years — have produced evidence linking 321 cases to suspects in other crimes and have identified two serial rapists, said state Rep. Scott Holbomb, the Atlanta Democrat who sponsored the 2016 law.
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has done an incredible job processing these kits and working through the evidence,” Holcomb said. “It has always been about pursuing justice for victims. Now we look forward to additional prosecutions to bring justice forward.”
GOP House Speaker David Ralston said Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly approved the 2016 law, which required police departments to submit rape and sexual assault kits performed at hospitals to the GBI for testing within 30 days of collection.
The GBI also received $1.6 million for new scientists and equipment to tackle the enormous backlog of untested kits, some of which had been untouched for a decade or more.
“They went back 15-plus years,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said. “They were in evidence rooms and forgotten about. Some of them were new, some of them were very old ... The kits were just warehoused and no further action was taken.”
Not all cases that yielded evidence from DNA tests are being prosecuted. Keenan said in some older cases the victims have chosen not to pursue charges because they don’t want to relive the assaults.
Holcomb said he hopes greater compliance by police departments will help avoid future backlogs. The GBI receives an average of 250 new sexual assault kits to test each month.