Breaking News
More () »

Report: Nearly 3,500 untested rape kits in MN

A new report released Thursday states there are currently nearly 3,500 untested rape kits at local agencies across Minnesota.
Testing rape kits.

MINNEAPOLIS - A new report released Thursday states where Minnesota's nearly 3,500 untested rape kits are located and how much it would cost the state to test them all.

A rape kit consists of evidence gathered in a hospital, including DNA, after an alleged sexual assault. Some advocates believe every kit sitting in evidence rooms should be tested.

The report, which was a directive from this year's legislative session, was compiled by the Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA collected an inventory of untested rape kits across all publicly funded forensic labs, county sheriff's offices and police departments in the state.

From that inventory, 171 agencies reported being in possession of at least one untested rape kit. In total, those agencies combined for a reported 3,482 untested rape kits.

The BCA said 25 agencies did not respond to the survey. Of the 409 that responded -- 238 of them said they did not have any untested rape kits.

Duluth Police Department, which received a $1 million federal grant to clear its backlog, has the most untested kits in the state with 578. The Anoka County Sheriff's office follows with 495, then St. Cloud P.D. (306,) Minneapolis P.D. (194,) and Rochester P.D. (145.)

Reasons for a rape kit to go untested can include a number of reasons, including a confession from a suspect, a reported rape found to be consensual in nature, a victim who decided not to proceed with charges or an anonymous report.

A third of all untested kits fell under the category of victim deciding not to participate.

As of July 1, the BCA had 157 untested rape kits that were submitted by local agencies as part of active criminal investigations. Those were all tested and were not included in the report submitted by local agencies.

The Minnesota lawmaker who pushed for the statewide count of untested rape kits isn't happy about the results.

"We have victims here, clearly in this report, that deserve justice that wasn't done," said Rep. Dan Schoen, a St. Paul Park democrat.

The BCA says it would cost $4.4 million to completely clear the state's backlog. Testing every kit would take more than 15 years if they only hire one additional scientist. If they hire 10 scientists, it would still take more than two years.

But Schoen doesn't think it will be necessary to test them all.

"It's not going to be that they need to test 3,000 kits. It might be – even if we said there are 300 that need to be tested or 400 – that's still a significant number to me," Schoen said.

Schoen adds the legislature might discuss guidelines for agencies to follow, to prevent a future backlog. RIght now there are no uniform standards from one department to the next.

According to the BCA, departments are sending in far more kits to be tested. The number this year is up 39 percent from last year.  But the BCA notes -- that slows the turnaround time.

Across the border in Wisconsin, the state Department of Justice last counted some 6000 untested kits.


Before You Leave, Check This Out