Attorney General Beshear releases online resource for law enforcement as untested rape kits get processed
12/07/2016 08:08 PM
FRANKFORT — Attorney General Andy Beshear unveiled a new online resource for law enforcement officials on Wednesday as more than 3,000 untested rape kits are processed by the state police crime lab.
The online tool kit covers steps officers must take in the process under a new state law passed in this year’s legislative session and guidelines of a $1.9 million District Attorney of New York County grant plus tips on how to investigate the crimes and interview victims.
The resource for police and prosecutors comes as law enforcement in Kentucky and across the nation grapple with scores of untested sexual assault kits that have sat untouched for months, years and, in some cases, decades.
“The online kit is an innovative new strategy that empowers the front-line officer to feel confident and ready to address some of the most challenging cases that they have,” Beshear said during a Capitol news conference. “Each of these cases will not only be a sexual assault case but a cold case, both types of cases that take special skills and training.”
“These victims have waited far too long for justice,” he added.
Kristi Gray, assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Jefferson County, said collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement and advocates helped shape the online tool.
“It’s helped us to recognize the unique challenges in prosecuting not only cold cases, but sexual assault cases in general, and the development of this tool kit was based on all of the challenges that we identified as a group, the shared ideas and information that we put together,” Gray said.
Law enforcement officials in Louisville and Lexington have received some results as untested rape kits are returned, but Beshear said no arrests have been made yet.
Gretchen Hunt, head of the attorney general’s Office of Victim Advocacy, said no matter the outcome, victims will be notified of the results of their sexual assault kits.
She said input from sexual assault survivors like Michelle Kuiper, one of the most vocal advocates in clearing the backlog of untested rape kits in Kentucky, proved invaluable in that aspect of the state’s approach. Kuiper “was still glad to have that information” when police notified her of developments in her case, even when the assailant could not be identified.
“Even when she was notified at various stages in her case when her case matched to another victim but did not yet match to an offender, she was still glad she had that information,” Hunt said.
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