Greene County News
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that DNA testing has been conducted on all of the nearly 5,000 sexual assault kits submitted by law enforcement in Cuyahoga County as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative.
Forty Cuyahoga County law enforcement agencies submitted a total of 4,996 rape kits to the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for forensic testing as part of Attorney General DeWine’s special initiative to test kits that had not been previously tested for DNA.
“More than one third of all of the kits submitted to my office statewide as part of this initiative were from Cuyahoga County – more than any other county in the state,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Today I’m proud to announce that forensic scientists with my office have tested each and every kit submitted from Cuyahoga County. This is a tremendous milestone as we get even closer to testing every single kit submitted as part of this effort from across the state.”
A total of 13,931 kits were submitted to BCI for DNA testing by 294 agencies across the state since Attorney General DeWine launched the SAK Testing Initiative in 2011 after learning that many law enforcement agencies across the state were in possession of rape kits, some of which were decades old, that had never been sent to a DNA lab for testing. Attorney General DeWine then made an open call to law enforcement to send their kits to BCI for DNA testing at no cost to them.
Ohio is now a leader in the nation in addressing the issue of untested rape kits.
The Cleveland Police Department, which submitted 4,418 kits, submitted the largest number of kits in Cuyahoga County and the state.
“I launched this initiative for the survivors of sexual assault who went through the traumatic process of a rape kit examination, but were still waiting for answers,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Now, hundreds of people, including many serial rapists, are being held accountable for their brutal attacks.”
“Ohio is the nation’s leader in testing forgotten rape kits because Attorney General DeWine recognized that police departments were sitting on a gold mine of evidence that could solve thousands of cold rape cases. And his miners in this important endeavor have been the BCI investigators and laboratory personnel who scrupulously matched the DNA in those old rape kits to the CODIS database of convicted felons,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.
“In Cuyahoga County alone, close to 600 cold rape cases have been solved and the rapists indicted because Attorney General DeWine and the men and women of the BCI lab laid down a challenge to law enforcement in the state: Send us your evidence and we will test it. The determination of the Attorney General and BCI to test every forgotten rape kit has made Ohio a safer place to live. Thousands of rapists will be held accountable, victims will see justice and other women and children will not be assaulted because these criminals will now be behind bars.”
“The issue of untested rape kits has raised the public’s awareness of the prevalence of rape and the importance of investigating and gathering evidence in every survivor’s case,” said Katie Hanna, Executive Director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “Over the last four years more people have begun talking publicly about sexual violence, with increased funding and policy changes to address the problem; and with future attention on needing to expand on the rights of survivors and on investing in primary prevention.”
Senate Bill 316, which went into effect in March 2015, required Ohio law enforcement agencies to submit any remaining previously untested sexual assault kits associated with a past crime to a crime laboratory by March 23, 2016. Of the nearly 14,000 kits submitted to BCI as part of the SAK Testing Initiative, 4,601 were submitted after the law went into effect. The law also requires that all newly collected rape kits be submitted to a crime lab within 30 days after law enforcement determines a crime has been committed.