Rape kits

Although changes are ahead, a long backlog of untested rape kits, keeps valley victims waiting for justice.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced Thursday that the state's backlog of untested rape kits has been cleared.

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced Thursday that the state's backlog of untested rape kits has been cleared.

According to a news release, Nevada’s sexual assault kit testing initiative has concluded, with all previously backlogged sexual assault kits from prior to 2016 having completed forensic testing.

Recently, according to the release, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory completed testing on over 1,100 kits from northern Nevada. "This milestone, along with the completion of testing southern Nevada kits from earlier this year brings the goal of testing all previously untested sexual assault kit in the state of Nevada to a close."

The 7,814 tests completed resulted in 64 arrests, AG Ford's office said. The also release notes that there were 1,083 DNA matches made and 121 issued warrants.

“As law enforcement, there is perhaps nothing more important than helping our vulnerable communities and providing them with the support and resources they need to move forward,” said Attorney General Aaron D. Ford. “Now, every Nevadan impacted by the state’s sexual assault kit backlog can rest easy knowing that their results are in-hand and that law enforcement stands ready to assist should they decide to pursue justice. My office has long been a champion for these survivors and we are a proud to be a part of this critical moment in our state’s history.”

“This year, my office was awarded a 2020 Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant, making my office the only Attorney General’s Office in the country to be awarded six consecutive sexual assault kit grants since the inception of the program,” continued AG Ford.

In 2015, Nevada’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Working Group was established to eliminate the decades-in-the-making backlog, develop policies and protocols relating to the response to sexual assault, introduce legislation and enhance Nevada’s resources for investigation, prosecution and victim services, the attorney general's office said.

According to the release, since 2015, the State of Nevada has allocated nearly $15 million towards this initiative, including $3.68 pledged by the Attorney General’s Office, $3 million pledged by the Nevada Legislature and approximately $8 million secured through grant funding by the Department of Justice.

"In 2017, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 97, which mandated that the attorney general help establish a statewide program to track sexual assault kits and report its progress. In June 2019, the tracking system went live through Nevada’s Department of Public Safety. Now, survivors of sexual assault can track dates and milestones from the time that they report a sexual assault, to the retrieval of the kit by law enforcement, the testing of the kit, availability of test results, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) entry/hits, law enforcement investigation review and results, and prosecution review and results."

To learn more about Nevada’s sexual assault kit backlog and resources available to survivors, visit the statewide sexual assault website, which is updated at the beginning of every month: endnevadasbacklog.ag.nv.gov.

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