DENVER - State and federal lawmakers are proposing changes after a CALL7 investigation uncovered that Colorado police departments are not testing many rape kits.
State House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said he decided to introduce legislation that would require all rape kits to be tested after seeing a CALL7 Investigation into rape kit testing in Colorado.
"I couldn't believe that this was happening, and so many kits had gone untested," McNulty told CALL7 Investigator Keli Rabon. "When you have rape kits sitting on the shelf in local law enforcement offices -- not being tested -- we're missing key opportunities to bring sexual predators to justice."
McNulty concedes that additional testing might cost money and that often makes it difficult to pass a bill. But McNulty said the issue is so important that testing should be required.
"I intend to introduce it as my first bill of the session to make sure we get a quick start on it," he said. "From my perspective, we need to spend what we need to spend to protect the victims of sexual assault and to make sure we're taking these sexual predators off the streets and doing everything we can to do that."
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., also said police departments need to send in more kits for testing.
“We have people who have been victims of one of the most horrible crimes you can imagine, and the least we can do for them to make sure the rape kits they've used are tested in an expeditious way,” Bennet said.
Bennet introduced a bill in May that would change requirements associated with a federal grant for police departments. Currently, at least 40 percent of that money has to go directly toward testing rape kits, but Bennet’s bill would increase that requirement to 75 percent.
“I think what we can do is say that we are serious about the idea that this federal money ought to be used to test these rape kits for the reasons I said earlier, and we don’t want it to be wasted on other things,” he said.
Departments around the state said they rarely test rape kits when the offenders is known to the victim. After the original CALL7 Investigation, however, the Fort Collins Police chief said he will change his department's policy and send more rape kits to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Rape victims and advocates say a change is needed to make sure serial rapists are identified and prosecuted.
“I think that they need to test every rape kit,” said Kelly Binder, who said she was drugged and raped in 2010 by a man she met in a bar. Her rape kit was never tested, and Binder believes police did not pursue her case. “I don't think that anybody should have to go through what I went through."
After publication, CALL7 was contacted by Denver District Attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough, who said DPD did investigate Binder's case, but the case was refused by the DA because "the evidence didn't support proof beyond a reasonable doubt."