JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A statewide audit released on Friday said that thousands of rape kits in Indiana are sitting untested, with nearly 5,400 waiting in police custody.
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The audit found no clear reason why nearly half of those haven't been tested. (Read the report here.)
The Indiana State Police said some of the kits haven't been tested because a police report was never filed, or because testing wasn't needed to move the case forward. But for 2,560 of those kits, ISP didn't find a clear reason the kit wasn't sent in for testing.
The DNA evidence in rape kits can solve crimes years after the assault and the kits are needed to hold attackers accountable, Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said.
When there's DNA evidence in them, Mull said rape kits are often instrumental in solving crimes, sometimes years after the assault.
"That can be very, very important, having the DNA collected and tested and put into the database. And I have seen it solve very serious crimes before," Mull said.
A new law in Indiana may make it easier to solve assaults in cases where the rape kit is tested, but the attacker is never found.
Starting in January, people arrested for a felony in Indiana will have DNA samples taken at the jail. Those samples will go into a database. If there's a DNA match for evidence tied to other crimes or to a rape kit, police can then hold suspects accountable.
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Mull said he believes the new law will help police get justice for victims.
"We do and have always taken such allegations seriously. We understand the effect that can have on the life of the victim, the lifelong trauma that can create for the victim," Mull said.
Senator Michael Crider pushed for the statewide audit of rape kits. He's been an advocate for changing laws in Indiana to help victims better hold their attackers accountable.
Crider said audits are just the first step in dealing with the unprocessed rape kits. In the upcoming legislative session, Crider said he aims to tackle how to deal with the backlog of untested kits. He also wants to make sure that any rape kits which need to be tested are in the future.
Clark County has 130 untested rape kits sitting inside police evidence rooms. But the 130 untested rape kits in Clark County don't fit the requirements for testing, Clark County said, due to reasons like a police report was never made, or because investigators later found the assault never took place.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said that's because there's no need to test the kits in order to move forward with the case or the investigation.
"Any of the tests kits that needed testing to further an investigation, that has been done in all active investigations," Mull said.