rape kits

Kentucky Gets $3 Million Grant to Investigate Sexual Assault

Oct 11, 2017
Ryland Barton

Kentucky has received a $3 million federal grant that will fund a new unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate sexual assault cold cases.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will pay for a victim advocate, an investigator and a prosecutor.

It will also provide funding for a Kentucky State Police Detective who will focus on sexual assaults.

Rhonda J Miller

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said only three percent of sexual assaults result in a conviction in court and prosecution of those cases must be stepped up. He spoke on the campus of Western Kentucky University on Oct. 9 as part of events to mark National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Beshear said there’s an important development in the works that will increase the rate of prosecution for sexual assaults in Kentucky.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear's office says training sessions planned this month will focus on the backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits.

The three-day training sessions are for law enforcement, prosecutors and victim advocates. The sessions are set for April 11-13 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington.

Beshear says prosecutors have requested the training to help them prosecute cases from the backlog of sexual assault evidence kits. Beshear's office says the training is another step toward helping sexual assault victims receive justice.

Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron says the training will be invaluable for prosecutors across Kentucky.

Beshear to Announce Research Project for Rape Kit Backlog

Jan 19, 2017
Ryland Barton

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is teaming up with the University of Louisville for a research project involving the state's rape kit backlog.

Beshear is scheduled to announce the project on Thursday along with Bradley Campbell, an assistant professor at UofL's Department of Criminal Justice.

A 2015 audit revealed Kentucky had more than 3,000 untested rape kits, collections of physical evidence from victims after a sexual assault. Police check that evidence against a national database of DNA profiles to look for suspects.

Beshear Releases Guidelines for Rape Kit Investigations

Dec 7, 2016
Ryland Barton

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has released recommended guidelines for law enforcement agencies who are investigating the results of rape kit tests. The guidelines include recommendations on how to manage the rape kits, how to review the DNA results and how to notify and interview victims.

Lisa Autry

Following some high-profile rape cases across the nation, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says Kentucky’s college campuses have not been exempt from sexual violence. 

Beshear was at Western Kentucky University Monday to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.  He spoke of efforts underway to prevent sexual assault on the state’s campuses. 

Beshear's office, in May, transferred $4.5 million to the Kentucky State Police crime lab to ease a backlog of untested rape kits. Beshear called it the most profound moment yet during his nine months in office.

"Why?  Because that was every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel, and penny that they said they needed to hire more people, train them, and buy more equipment so that this commonwealth would never ever have a rape kit backlog again," remarked Beshear.

Beshear said his office is also providing training this week to circuit clerks on how to better handle domestic violence cases in the courts.  Next month, prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates will be trained on how to help prevent domestic violence fatalities. 

Jacob Ryan

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has ceremonially signed legislation that requires all untested sexual assault examination kits to be sent to the Kentucky State Police crime lab by the beginning of next year.

Some sexual assault kits have been sitting on shelves since the 60’s

By July 1st of 2018, the bill will require the state to test sexual assault kits within an average of no greater than 90 days.  Bevin said the state can do even better than that, “These are things that should be the bare minimum I think we can do a whole lot better than this once we’ve got this entire backlog taken care of and we’re well on path to getting that done.”

The bill was proposed by Louisville Democratic Sen. Denise Harper Angel who described the bill's intent, “It says you will wait no longer for justice and that we, the government will do what we can and what must do to defend and protect and ensure swift and proper justice for all those victims.”

The testing turnaround time is required to be no greater than 60 days by July 1st of 2020.

An investigation by former Auditor Adam Edelen revealed that there are over 3,000 untested rape kits held by local law enforcement in the state.

The state legislature set aside $4.5 million to fast track testing of the kits. Kentucky State Police is hiring 10 new biologists to help speed up the process.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is providing some additional money to test rape kits that have languished in the state crime lab. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced his office is providing $4.5 million to the Kentucky State Police crime lab to buy additional equipment and hire more workers to conduct the testing.  The money comes from unrelated lawsuit settlements won by the state.

Beshear said the kits are more than a box on a dusty shelf.

"They represent victims who have had the courage to not only report, but to undergo one of the most thorough physical, forensics examinations that can be asked for, and what have we done?  We've locked that courage in a box and let in languish on a shelf, but no more," stated Beshear.

An audit last year found that more than 3,000 kits in the commonwealth had gone untested due to a lack of funding and staff. 

Kentucky Senate Addresses Untested Rape Kits

Mar 17, 2016
Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate has approved legislation intended to avoid future backlogs of untested sexual assault kits.

The unanimous approval comes as more than three thousand untested rape kits remain in the state police crime lab. A state audit uncovered the backlog.

Louisville Senator Denise Harper Angel told her colleagues the bill calls for taking sexual assault kits into custody from collecting facilities within five days. “All kits shall be submitted to the KSP crime lab within 30 days. All kits submitted to law enforcement agencies shall be tested, cannot be destroyed, and all victims shall be notified of the progress and results of the testing,” said Harper Angel.

Hopkinsville Senator Whitney Westerfield says officials at the lab and within the State Justice Cabinet have put much effort into tackling this problem. “To make sure we’ve got a compromise bill that we can pass, that people can meet the standards in, and that will prevent a backlog like this from happening again,” Westerfield explained.

Westerfield says the State Police Crime Lab is underfunded. He says more staff and equipment are needed. The bill does not establish funding levels.

LRC Public Information

A state Senate committee unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that would set deadlines for law enforcement to test sexual assault kits.

An investigation from former state Auditor Adam Edelen’s office last year showed there are more than 3,000 untested rape kits in the state, and 41 percent of Kentucky law enforcement agencies don’t submit all kits to the state crime lab.

The bill would require hospitals to submit sexual assault kits to law enforcement within 24 hours of collecting evidence. Local law enforcement would have 30 days to submit the kits to the state crime lab. The crime lab would then have 90 days to analyze the evidence by 2018 and 60 days by 2020.

The legislation also requires that those who complete sexual assault kits be notified of the progress of the testing.

Kentucky LRC

A Louisville state senator has proposed requiring police departments to submit rape kits to the state testing lab within 30 days of receiving them.

Victims would also be notified of the testing progress. The backlog rape kits tests were the subject of a critical state audit last year.

Louisville Democratic Sen. Denise Harper Angel said the bill is “absolutely necessary.”

“Any victim of rape needs to know and deserves to know that their test is going to be tested and we have to get criminals off the streets,” Harper Angel said.

The bill would also forbid anyone from destroying rape kits.

The kits include hair, fingernail scrapings and biological evidence from a victim’s body that can be tested for DNA. Rape kit exams are usually conducted at hospitals, logged into law enforcement agencies’ property evidence rooms and then may be sent to the Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory.