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Push to Expedite Rape Kit Testing

IMAGE: AB 1517 would specify timeframes for the testing of rape kits and for entering the information into a national DNA database. Credit: NYC.gov
IMAGE: AB 1517 would specify timeframes for the testing of rape kits and for entering the information into a national DNA database. Credit: NYC.gov
March 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sexual assault advocates are demanding changes in the handling of crucial evidence from rape cases in California.

It's estimated tens of thousands of rape kits are sitting on evidence shelves waiting to be processed.

Natasha Alexenko was raped at gunpoint while she was a student in New York, but DNA evidence from her case went untouched for nearly a decade.

"During that time my rape kit sat and collected dust,” she points out. “That man that viciously attacked me was on a nationwide crime spree and he was leaving a host of victims in his wake. He was causing a public safety issue."

A bill moving through the state Legislature would specify time frames for the testing of rape kits and for entering the information into a national DNA database.

Alexenko, whose rapist was eventually arrested and convicted, says justice matters to victims, their families and those wrongly accused as well.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner says her bill would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to crime labs within five days.

The labs would then have 30 days to process the evidence.

"So that we demonstrate to survivors of assault that we care, help law enforcement solve crimes and that we make everyone safer," Skinner says.

The California Association of Crime Lab Directors and California State Sheriffs' Association both oppose the bill because of a lack of funding and resources.

AB 1517 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee next month.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA