Contracts to test previously untested rape kits approved; 600 kits could be tested this year
05/19/2016 01:01 PM
UPDATED: After more than a year since 3,090 previously untested rape kits were identified, two contracts providing for the testing of 3,300 of what could be more than 5,000 untested rape kits has been approved by the Finance and Administration Cabinet.
Since the audit performed by former Auditor Adam Edelen, kits have been collected by the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab and await processing by the out-of-state vendor, named in the contracts as Sorensen Forensics based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
According to the contract Sorensen Forensics “shall provide analysis of up to three-hundred (300) kits for a length of up to eleven (11) months within a ninety (90) day turnaround time.”
The wording could cause some confusion, but officials with the Kentucky State Police assure all 3,330 kits which are allowed to be tested using grant money will be sent to the lab by the end of fiscal year 2017.
According to Kentucky State Police Sergeant Michael Webb, the commander of public affairs, that means there will be a total of 600 kits sent out by the rest of this fiscal year, with the balance of the 3,300 kits sent during fiscal year 2017.
The testing has been approved at a cost of $1.8 million, according to the contract obtained by Pure Politics, and will be paid for using the DANY, or New York County District Attorney’s Office, grant provided to the state to clear the backlog last year. That grant is worth $1.9 million and supplied to the Kentucky State Police, who sought the contract with Sorensen.
Sorensen Forensics has agreed to provide the off-site analysis of testing at a flat-rate of $624 per kit, and include all costs including transportation and delivery.
The company has also agreed to assume all consultation and travel costs in providing court testimony and legal action related to prosecutions for the Kentucky State Police.
The rates for pretrial deposition and expert witness costs are on a separate case-by-case basis, according to the contracts.
Pretrial deposition is set at $100 per hour. Expert witness testimony onsite and in Kentucky is set at $800 per day.
Pure Politics reported in May that some prosecutors fear of rising prosecution costs with the out-of-state testing facility for the witness testimony.
Payments on the contracts are subject to review and approval by the secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the legislature’s Government Contract Review Committee.
The first contract will likely be reviewed by the contract review committee, according to Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, a member of the panel. That committee is next scheduled to hold a meeting on June 14.
“I would say that there’s a good possibility that we pull it for review, not for contesting but for looking at logistics of what may happen, how long it’s going to take and who all is going to do it,” Yonts said.
“I think because of the nature of it, I don’t know how many dollars it, but … I think people want to know what’s going to happen with the results.”
As the testing gets underway, the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs is also preparing for those results and those court cases to potentially come into the state. KASAP is setting up a notification protocol for survivors of rape whose kits are flagged in the testing process.
“The timing is perfect,” said Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of KASAP.
Attorney General Andy Beshear, who flagged concerns with the long procurement time on the contract, said he was pleased the Finance and Administration Cabinet has approved the Kentucky State Police contract to begin the testing of the rape kit backlog.
“Along with the $4.5 million my office has provided to upgrade and expand the KSP crime lab, we are one step closer to justice for these survivors, who have waited months, years, even decades for resolution of their cases,” Beshear said in a statement.
“At the Office of the Attorney General, we are committed to support local law enforcement, prosecutors and victims every step of the way to ensure that when these kits are tested, victims are notified and cases are investigated and prosecuted in a victim-centered manner so that we can bring perpetrators to justice and protect all Kentuckians.”
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