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Northeast Florida Rape Kits To Be Tested; Sex Crimes Unit Created Under Federal Grant

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.

State Attorney Angela Corey says, ever since the state attorney’s office moved into its building six months ago, she’s been reserving vacant offices for this cold-case unit

“So the grant is nothing short of a blessing to be able to accomplish that goal,” she says. “So here we are, able to fill those offices with people who are going to work with law enforcement to go ahead and solve these cases.”

Corey says her office is adding an investigator and other support staff. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will get two new sex-crimes detectives. And victims’ advocates will be assigned to help people once attackers are identified through DNA testing.

Corey says, “A message for our victims, who are waiting for justice: We’re with you on this. We always have been, and we always will be. We will work tirelessly with law enforcement, use this money wisely, and try to solve your case. We promise you that we will do that.”

A state crime lab spokeswoman says it will take two years to get through all of the Fourth Judicial Circuit’s untested kits. And it could take years after that for the state to build cases against accused attackers.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP