New federal initiative will start testing nationwide backlog of rape kits

DENVER - Rape kits from law enforcement agencies across the nation will soon be tested, as part of a new initiative by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Institute of Justice.

FBI Director James Comey discussed the plan to test the backlogged evidence with CALL7 Investigator Keli Rabon in Denver on Wednesday.

"We want to make a difference in reducing the backlog of rape kits, because we care deeply about justice for victims of sex crimes, we care deeply about people who might be out there to victimize others," Comey said.

Law enforcement agencies will be allowed to submit up to 30 kits at a time, and the federal government will cover the cost of testing.

An estimated 400,000 to 500,000 untested rape kits sit in police evidence rooms across the country.

In November 2012, the CALL7 Investigators first revealed Colorado's thousands of untested rape kits. As a result, state legislators took action in 2013, passing a bill to create standards for rape kit testing old cases and requiring the testing of all newly submitted rape kits.

Comey told Rabon that the agency sees significant value in testing the evidence for DNA, because identifying a rapist could also prevent other crimes.

"That load of backlogged rape kits represent clues to stop somebody who will hurt somebody else," Comey said.

It's unclear at this time how many rape kits will be tested through the new federal program.

If you have a news tip or follow-up to this story, e-mail Keli Rabon. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon

 

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