Maui County clears rape kit backlog, catches up on old cases
WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — More than 100 rape kits dating to 1999 in Maui County have been tested, making the county the first in Hawaii to catch up on old cases.
The county tested 105 kits collected from 1999 to July 1, 2016, as part of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, The Maui News reported Sunday.
The state Department of the Attorney General last year was awarded a $2 million grant as part of the initiative.
Of 166 Maui County cases where there were untested rape kits, 105 met the criteria for testing through the initiative, First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera said.
“We are completely caught up with the old cases,” Rivera said. “We’re the first county in the state to have no untested kits.”
Kits were not tested if an offender was already convicted and in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, if complainants had filed written withdrawals of prosecution and if offenders were juveniles.
Rivera said 13 of the kits were “hits” in the FBI’s index, but that authorities were unable to prosecute anyone in those 13 cases.
Rivera said having DNA profiles of offenders in the FBI’s index helps other jurisdictions identify possible serial rapists.
Rivera said it took just over a year to complete the testing, which involved having the kits tested at an accredited DNA laboratory.
In Maui County, 20 to 30 rape kits are collected each year in cases where victims make a report within about 120 hours of a sexual assault.
Guidelines previously called for rape kits to be used if a sexual assault was reported within 72 hours, but the window has expanded based on recent advances in science, Rivera said.
Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com