GBI: More than 4,200 untested rape kits 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 tallied untested evidence of more than 4,200 suspected sexual assaults that had never been analyzed by authorities for DNA matches, according to a report released this month by the agency. And roughly 5,400 other rape kits submitted more than a decade ago could be re-examined by state investigators.

The GBI said it had collected 3,006 unsubmitted kits from across the state since April 26 and that forensics investigators have completed testing on another 1,572 kits over the last seven months, including many received before April. That includes evidence from at least 14 sexual assault kits long stored at Atlanta hospitals for children that matched DNA samples collected from convicted criminals and stored in a national database.

The report also said another 5,411 rape kits the agency received before 1999, which at the time couldn’t be tested, will be “researched to determine if DNA analysis is needed” using modern technology.

The 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 the GBI said in the annual report that about 50 cases each month are outsourced.

“I’m horrified that there are so many victims who are waiting for justice,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, who along with state Sen. Elena Parent was a sponsor of the measure. “But I’m encouraged that cases are now moving forward. Much more work needs to be done.”

The law was passed in the wake of a 2015 Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that found that Grady had stored in filed cabinets as many as 1,500 rape kits and never told police about them. Holcomb has said he plans to introduce legislation that would make it easier to notify victims that their cases are now moving through the criminal justice system.

Read more: Once-shelved evidence of child sexual assaults yields DNA hits

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