State Senate looking for answers about backlogged rape kits

The Indiana State Senate has approved a measure that could impact sexual assault cases. The resolution asks Indiana State Police to conduct an audit to find out how many untested sexual assault kits there are throughout the state.

The move comes after legislators noticed many counties were backlogged on the kits.

State police will conduct an audit of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested at law enforcement and health facilities.

Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten said work will begin soon.

“We’re going to be consulting with our law enforcement and prosecuting partners in each county across the state to determine the best method to compile this information, and then give the requested report to the legislative council by December of this year,” Bursten said.

Indiana State Senator Michael Crider, (R) Greenfield authored the bill. He said it’s about getting answers and moving forward.

“When the audit is complete, it’s our hope to learn more about why there is a backlog on testing these kits,” Crider said. “It’s my goal to stop this problem before it gets any worse and get ourselves in a better place going forward.”

Sexual assault kits can be crucial in solving sexual assault cases. Michael McAlexander, Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor, said the DNA evidence in the kits can be beneficial for everyone involved in the case.

“What is really nice about it for both sides is D-N-A evidence can be compelling evidence to convict,” McAlexander said. “It can also be compelling evidence to acquit.”

For Erika Monroe, a rape kit helped send the man responsible for her rape to trial and then prison. She was 10 years old when he raped her, but her rape kit was not processed for more than 23 years.

“You really feel like you don’t matter,” Monroe said. “It feels like you’re just being brushed under the rug. Every victim deserves to have their kit tested.”

It wasn’t until she demanded her kit be tested that she finally got justice. It’s for that reason she encourages others to do the same.

“Don’t give up hope. The only way that you’re going to get your kit tested is by going to your sheriff’s department, going to your prosecutors department, and asking them to run your kit,” Monroe said.

She said the new legislative measure is a step in the right direction, but she hopes law enforcement and prosecutors will take it a step further and make sure all rape kits are tested in a timely fashion.

Attorney Ken Nunn echoed Monroe’s thoughts. He has spent months trying to find answers to why there are so many untested rape kits in the state. Now that lawmakers are working to find out, Nunn is looking ahead.

“What’s next?” Nunn said. “Now that we know how many everybody’s got, it doesn’t really solve the problem.”

In the meantime, Indiana State Police will begin collecting and compiling data from around the state. The department has until December 1 to present its findings to the Senate committee.