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Local authorities are holding 169 untested rape kits — here's why

Local authorities are holding 169 untested rape kits — here's why

The Rochester Police Department (145) and Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office (24) have a combined 169 untested rape kits, according to records released to the Med City Beat.

However, unlike many law enforcement agencies in the U.S., there is an explanation to why each kit has not been tested, officials told us.

In most cases, the kits were not sent to the lab for analysis because either the victim asked to end the investigation or a prosecutor declined to move forward with the case.

“There’s a reason why the kit hasn’t been tested in every one of those cases,” said Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin. “We don’t have forgotten sexual assault cases. Everyone is assigned to an investigator regardless of the circumstances.”

Both law enforcement agencies have untested kits dating back to the early 90s. Since the kits are so small, there’s no reason to get rid of them, Sherwin said.

In some situations, a hospital will administer the test to a possible victim who chooses to remain anonymous. Investigators will then hold onto the kit in case the individual decides to come forward at a later time.

 
 

A recent investigation by USA TODAY, in conjunction with dozens of other news agencies across the country, revealed at least 70,000 untested rape kits across more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“In most states and at most law enforcement agencies, there are no written guidelines for processing sex-crime evidence,” the paper says. “Decisions often are left to the discretion of investigating officers, leading to inconsistencies.”

Minnesota is one of just a handful of states requiring law enforcement agencies to have a plan for testing. Gov. Mark Dayton even signed a bill into law earlier this year requiring all state agencies to conduct audits of their untested kits.

 
 

There were 1,980 reported rapes in the state last year (46 in Rochester). According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, 875 sexual assault kits were sent to the lab for testing. The average wait time for results was 38 days.

Click here for national statistics on sexual assault.


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