Results expected soon from backlog of untested rape kits

SAN DIEGO -- Initial results are expected in the next few days on previously untested rape evidence kits that will help identify offenders who may potentially be linked to other sexual assaults, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the District Attorney's Office, working with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, contracted with a private lab, Bode Cellmark Forensics in Lorton, Virginia, to test about 1,000 untested sexual assault kits. So far, 350 rape kits have been sent to the lab for testing, Stephan said.

The county's top prosecutor said reducing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits has been a top priority of hers since she took office last July.

With the support of San Diego County's chief administrative officer, officials identified about $1 million to go toward the effort of expedited testing, Stephan said.

"Protecting victims of sexual assault and leveraging every tool to bring their abusers to justice has been my mission for over a decade. About 80 percent of rapes are committed by someone in the victim's circle and it's likely the perpetrator will continue to commit sexual assaults," she said.

"Having personally prosecuted rape cases that left victims with deep emotional and physical wounds and having seen how much bringing their perpetrators to justice matters, I'm committed to doing everything we can to solve their cases,' Stephan said. "That's why I've prioritized the testing of rape kits, including those committed by known perpetrators, and worked so hard to identify funding and get the process moving as quickly as possible. The kits may contain powerful evidence that can speak on behalf of victims and prevent a future assault."

Sexual assault victims who are interested in knowing the status of the DNA test related to their case can be put in touch with an investigator, Stephan said. In order to facilitate requests, the Sheriff's Department has established a phone number and email address where people can leave current contact information.

The phone number is 858-514-4661; the email address is KitTestResults@sdsheriff.org. Both the phone number and the email address can be found on the Sheriff's Department web page: www.SDSheriff.net.