Tuesday, September 22, 2009

DNA Evidence Leads to Sexual Assault Arrest in LA County

The LA Times reports that a Long Beach, CA man, arrested on domestic violence charges, is suspected of sexually assaulting an 83 year-old woman earlier this year. The man underwent a DNA test upon his recent arrest, and his DNA matches that which was collected from the sexual assault case.

Los Angeles County currently has a backlog of untested rape evidence collection kits, which contain DNA samples from sexual assault cases, totaling around 12,000 kits! About half of the cases these kits are tied to have passed the statute of limitations.

By allowing rape kits to go untested, LA County has been depriving sexual assault victims of the justice they deserve, while allowing dangerous criminals to run free. In fact, in Los Angeles County, sexual assault has the lowest arrest rate of any violent crime - only about 25% of cases ever end in arrest.

When New York City began testing their recent backlog of nearly 17,000 rape kits, the arrest rate skyrocketed to 80%, with a very small dismissal and acquittal rate. Through examination of the DNA evidence contained in the kits, the city was able to not only find and convict serial rapists, but serial date rapists, as well.

This is extremely notable because date or acquaintance rape is often considered a less serious crime by authorities, and some recent investigation in Santa Barbara, CA shockingly revealed that SBPD will immediately dismiss acquaintance rape cases that involve alcohol. With a prominent university and community college located in Santa Barbara this unjustice is absolutely inexcusable.

Human Rights Watch has been investigating the LA County rape kit backlog and suspects the backlog is not isolated to Los Angeles, but is most likely a national crisis.

What can you do? Start investigating! Ask your local police department if they have untested rape kits. Find out what their procedure for testing rape kits is. If you find disturbing information, contact your FMF Campus Organizer.

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