rape kits

Sexual Assault

Jacksonville leaders say they’re determined to do whatever is necessary to help victims of sexual assault.

That was the message this week as Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Angela Corey all spoke out about efforts to reduce a large backlog both here in our area and around the state of untested sexual assault kits.

A multi-million dollar grant has been awarded to the prosecutor’s office to work on this. And a multi-disciplinary team, the only one of its kind in Florida, is operating in this area.

 Rape kit testing

Governor Rick Scott signs into law a measure requiring all rape kits in the state to be tested within 120 days.

Scott signed the bill after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a report that said 13,000 kits in Florida have not been processed — sometimes for years.

In Duval County, FDLE reports one of the highest rates of forcible sexual offenses in the state.

The state attorney’s office has applied for a $2 million dollar grant to handle all the untested rape kits.

But even with this new law taking effect, some women who’ve been raped said they’re skeptical authorities can actually bring them justice.

Folio Weekly editor Claire Goforth, who’s written about Sara’s ordeal, is the in-studio guest.

Rick Scott in Jacksonville
Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday signed nine bills, including a high-profile measure requiring local law-enforcement agencies to submit "rape kits" to be tested and another allowing the creation of a needle-exchange program in Miami-Dade County.

A new study from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement  has found a backlog of at least 13, 000 untested sexual-assault kits in Florida. There are nearly 1,500 untested kits in Duval County alone. 

Managing that backlog could cost as much as $32 million dollars.

The study is under review in Tallahassee as the 2016 legislative session kicks off next week.

Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) is planning to introduce legislation to reduce this backlog, and create clear standards for testing sexual-assault kits. She joins us to discuss this.

QIAGEN

More than 9,000 untested sexual-assault kits need to be processed by Florida crime labs. That’s according to an assessment released Monday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The report also makes several recommendations for getting the backlog unjammed.


We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union columnist; A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics reporter; Matt Shaw, Folio Weekly editor.

Topics include Congresswoman Corrine Brown's opposition to proposed changes to the school district's boundaries, a lawsuit filed by Florida taxi companies again the state to impose more regulations on ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber, and more.


Corey at lectern
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

All of Northeast Florida’s untested rape kits—about 1,500 of them—will now get processed, thanks to a federal grant announced Thursday.

The nearly $2 million grant will also establish a sex-crimes cold-case unit at the state attorney’s office in Jacksonville.


Attorney General Pam Bondi put added pressure Wednesday on lawmakers to increase funding for crime labs as she detailed a massive backlog of untested rape kits across the state.

"Those need to be tested because, hidden in those estimated thousands of untested rape kits, we have the potential to solve cold cases and lock up sexual predators and make Florida the safest place to live and raise a family," Bondi said during a news conference at The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

State Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) joins us to discuss education issues, as well as possible legislation to address how quickly sexual assault kits are processed in the state.


www.weswhite.com

A candidate for Florida State Attorney is calling on leaders and lawmakers to find the funding to process what he calls a backlog of untested rape kits in Duval County.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says there is no backlog, because the untested kits weren’t needed in cases where the victim was unwilling to prosecute, or when they had a confession from an identified suspect.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

Northeast Florida State Attorney candidate Wes White called on Duval County leaders and lawmakers Thursday to find the money to process some 2,000 rape kits that have sat on the shelf for as long as 20 years.

“The issue is: it needs to be done today,” White said. “I don’t know any other crimes against persons where someone says, 'Well, we’re going to wait until we get funding to take care of it.'”

White says it costs around $800 to process the DNA collected from a rape victim.