It has been a problem in Pennsylvania for years. Thousands of rape kits going untested, some for decades. But now, there’s progress being made in getting those kits tested and for some victims, finally finding justice.
The state’s auditor general has been putting pressure of officials to properly fund police departments and crime labs to get these kits tested. Today, he provided an update on how that work is going.
Sexual Assault Survivor Samantha Fullam says, “We have a rape kit crisis.”
And, it’s a crisis Fullam knows all too well. At just 15-years-old, Samantha was raped by four men.
“I was pretty much passed around like a piece of meat.”
But, the trauma didn’t end there, having to endure an invasive exam in order to submit evidence through a rape kit.
“This was ten years ago next month. And I have not heard anything since then.”
And, she’s not alone. In 2016, the auditor general’s office found more than 3200 rape kits, some dating back to the 90’s, just sitting in crime labs across the state, untested.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says, “That is more than 20 years, in some cases, for rape victims to wonder if they would ever see any justice for the heinous crimes committed against them.”
Since that report, though, progress; in three years, the number of untested kits has gone from 3200 to just 339, a 90% reduction including zero backlogged kits in State Police crime labs. But, the auditor general says work still needs to be done for the remaining backlogged kits as survivors like Samantha continue to wait for answers.
“We feel like we don’t have control over anything in our lives.”