Staggering

Journalist’s discovery of rape kit backlog leads to new law and arrests

NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images

 

Rachel Dissell, a reporter for Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer who was researching sexual assaults, made a startling discovery: in the state of Ohio, thousands of rape kits going back as far as 1993 remained untested. These rape kits — used by a nurse to collect possible forensic evidence after a sexual assault — were stored without any follow-up, leaving rapists who could have been convicted based on DNA evidence, out on the streets. Dissell and her colleague wrote hundreds of articles on the backlog over a period of years, until law enforcement and politicians started to take notice. Eventually, in December 2014, a new law was passed in Ohio, mandating that old and new kits be tested in order to prevent a new backlog. In Cuyahaga County (which includes Cleveland) alone, more than 2,000 rapes had to be reinvestigated, and, so far, 224 serial rapists or potential serial rapists have been identified. Other states are now starting to learn from Ohio’s experiences and adopting similar laws.

Read the full story at NPR.

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