Colorado rape kits finally being tested, but police must act before statute of limitations runs out

DENVER - As thousands of previously untested rape kits are analyzed under a new Colorado law, police will be faced with a new challenge -- taking action before a case exceeds Colorado’s statute of limitations.

One year after the implementation of a new law requiring rape kit testing across the state, prompted by our CALL7 investigation, 150 of Colorado’s more than 6,000 untested rape kits have now been analyzed.

Experts say DNA evidence obtained from a rape kit can be a valuable tool in linking known offenders to previous cases. DNA can also assist in locating unknown suspects in sex assault cases that may have otherwise gone cold. In the first round of testing, 24 rape kits matched the DNA of a person already in CODIS, the national law enforcement database.

But in some cases, it might be too late.

Colorado has a 10-year statute of limitations in sexual assault cases involving adult victims. That means that some cases reported in 2004 and prior would not be eligible for prosecution, even with new evidence obtained from a rape kit. The statute of limitations does not apply to sex assault cases involving children.

In the first round of testing, DNA matches were identified in 12 Aurora cases. So far, Aurora Police have provided details about four of those cases.

  • One rape kit from 2004 involved a woman who said she was assaulted by two strangers. DNA from one man has been identified.
  • Another rape kit from 2004 -- also a stranger case -- has identified a man based on his DNA.
  • A 2005 case which also involved a man unknown to the victim has now been identified based on DNA. Police are attempting to find the victim at this time.
  • One case from 2006 -- involving a man known to the victim -- yielded a DNA match. APD says the victim did not want to proceed with charges shortly after the alleged assault occurred, so it’s unlikely investigators will follow-up.

The CALL7 Investigators have learned that the two 2004 cases from Aurora have fallen outside the statute of limitations, so it’s unlikely the cases will be pursued.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says moving forward, it is prioritizing testing with the 10-year statute of limitations in mind. For some cases it may be too late, but that evidence could still connect patterns when tested and uploaded into the system.

Click here to see more from the CALL7 Investigators' series on rape kit testing in Colorado.

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