PRESTONSBURG – State Auditor Adam Edelen visited Floyd County Monday to talk with employees and administrators at Mountain Comprehensive Care about a backlog in Washington that has nothing to do with politics.
Edelen has been visiting agencies statewide to discuss the concern that hundreds or maybe thousands of untested rape kits are currently sitting in law enforcement offices around the state. He announced Wednesday that he will auditing police and prosecutorial agencies to find out exactly how many kits haven’t been tested, hoping to find a cause for the backlog.
The proper procedure for submitting rape kits is to submit them to a regional state police forensics lab but, for whatever reason, kits haven’t been turning up at all. Gretchen Hunt, an attorney with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, spoke with Edeline during a press conference recently.
““We think there are steps along the way where people do not believe victims and they don’t investigate it and we do hear about those problems happening,” Hunt said after the press conference.
Test kits include samples of hair and clothing, as well as cheek and vaginal swabs. The current back up of untested kits means that DNA samples aren’t being added to the registry, resulting in possible delays and even injustices along the way.
““We’re going to come up with a stone-cold count of the number of unprocessed rape kits in Kentucky and we’re going to reach out to other policy makers to make sure that what we have here is a system that works for victims and punishes the perpetrator,” Edelen said.
One suggestion has been to have agencies keep victims updated on the status of their rape kits, forcing a level of accountability.
According to data offered by Hunt, about 20 percent of women in Kentucky have been raped, while roughly 47 percent have been the target of some type of sexual violence.
Edelen has said he expects his findings to be filed in a full report by September.
Sheldon Compton is a staff writer for The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.