Nearly 3,500 untested rape kits to be analyzed under new Georgia law

Dozens of rape kits from Children's Healthcare are stored in the vault at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Kent Johnson/AJC

Dozens of rape kits from Children’s Healthcare are stored in the vault at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Kent Johnson/AJC

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has now tallied untested evidence of nearly 3,500 suspected sexual assaults that has never been analyzed by authorities for DNA matches.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles told WAGA-TV that the agency had collected 2,411 unsubmitted kits from across the state. She added that law enforcement officials reported another 1,008 will be turned in by the end of the month.

That includes more than 200 untested rape kits from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that the hospital said police neglected to pick up despite repeated notifications. The AJC also reported last year that more than 1,400 rape kits had piled up, untested, at Grady Memorial Hospital.

]Rape survivor Lisa Anderson talks with Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) about his rape kit legislation. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Rape survivor Lisa Anderson talks with Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) about his rape kit legislation. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

The new scrutiny was prompted by a new state law that set deadlines for when rape kits must be sent to the state’s forensic lab in Decatur passed in the final minutes of the 2016 legislative session.  While lawmakers did not set aside funding to cover the cost of testing, Georgia received a $2 million grant from a New York agency – and half the funds will be sent to test the kits from Grady.

“It shows the importance of the law and that it is working,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat who sponsored the measure. “Clearly, the General Assembly was right to act – and I expect the number will go higher.”

Next up? A push for improved procedures to notify victims that their cases are now moving through the criminal justice system.

“These numbers are consistent with what the experts expected and why there was such support for the law,” Holcomb added. “Everyone who knew and understood the issue was aware of the scope of the problem – and the need to act.”

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Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Georgia statehouse on Monday to protest Gov. Nathan Deal’s constitutional amendment that would allows the state to take control of persistently failing schools. WSB’s Dave Huddleston had an interesting observation on the turnout:

Many of the union representatives at the rally were from out of town, he said, visiting from the Communication Workers of America’s national meeting held down the street. A little online digging proved him correct:

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Donald Trump’s upcoming rallies in deep-red Texas and Mississippi have some Republicans scratching their heads about why the GOP nominee isn’t spending more time in places like, well, Georgia.jolt

Here’s Austin Barbour, a Mississippi Republican operative in Politico:

“Going and doing a big event, that takes a lot of valuable time, that’s another stop you could make in Pensacola, Florida,” Barbour said. “Georgia’s close this year, North Carolina, there’s lots of places … It’s a confusing strategy. You only have a certain number of days.”

Several recent polls, including our own, project a tight race between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Peach State this fall.

Trump last visited Georgia in June for a fundraiser and a rally at Fox Theater, and his running-mate Mike Pence is headed to Atlanta on Monday to collect checks. Clinton last visited Georgia in February, days before the March 1 primary, though her husband Bill Clinton has returned for fundraisers.

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Writing in the New York Times, Emory history professor Joseph Crespino draws some interesting parallels between Trump’s White House run and former Alabama Gov. and segregationist George Wallace’s campaigns for president.

From his op-ed in the Times:

“Indeed, Wallace’s legacy is telling. An economic progressive, he remained a Democrat his entire life. True, he galvanized white working-class disenchantment and pioneered a populist, anti-liberal rhetoric that Ronald Reagan and subsequent Republicans would use to devastating effect. Yet he never had much appeal among the new class of suburban whites; the two were like oil and water. So, too, it would seem, are Donald Trump and moderate Southern Republicans today.

Whether or not Republicans hold on to Georgia and South Carolina this year, the lessons they are likely to take away are predictable. Democrats will assume that these states, like Virginia and North Carolina, are part of a long-term liberal trend and push traditional liberal ideas harder in future elections. Republicans will most likely write off Mr. Trump as a one-time phenomenon and not do anything. In doing so, both parties will ignore lessons from the history of the Southern conservative majority.

What might be happening instead is something new in the South: true two-party politics, in which an urban liberal-moderate Democratic Party fights for votes in the increasingly multiethnic metropolitan South against an increasingly rural, nationalistic Republican Party. If that happens, it will transform not only the politics of the American South, but those of America itself.”

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Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, will be in Detroit next week as part of his work on a new bipartisan task force aimed at examining relations between cops and the black community after several high-profile shootings earlier this summer.

Collins told us earlier this summer that he plans to use his position on the task force mainly to listen but that he’d be open to pursuing legislation related to bolstering police-community relations

“If it turns out that there are things that we can do, then I would be open to looking at it. But I think the biggest thing is starting a dialogue on how we help encourage understanding in this regard,” Collins said last month.

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State Rep. Allen Peake quickly became the target of online acclaim and vitriol after his “Jerry Maguire” GOP manifesto outlining his disgust for Donald Trump.

So much so that he’s found solace in a familiar issue.

 


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