New numbers released Wednesday reveal how many sexual assault victims in Washington state are still waiting for justice because their rape kits have not yet been tested.
After a statewide inventory, the Washington State Attorney General's office determined 6,460 rape kits have been unsubmitted for processing by local law enforcement.
The oldest untested kit dates all the way back to 1982.
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Leah Griffin knows the pain of a years-long wait for justice.
She told KIRO 7 that after she was raped four years ago, she was turned away by a hospital that “told me, they don’t do rape kits.”
Griffin was eventually able to get a rape kit done at Harborview Medical Center, but she felt the indignities of the justice system were nearly as traumatic as the violent attack on her body.
“So I emailed everyone I could,” Griffin said. “Lawmakers, city council members, federal and state, and I advocated for House Bill 1068” that mandated all rape kits in Washington State be tested.
However, it took money earmarked by Washington State lawmakers, and a $3 million federal grant, to make it happen.
The first step – inventory of the unsubmitted rape kits -- was just completed. “The victim deserves to have justice,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson told KIRO 7 on Wednesday. “Part of that is every one of these sexual assault kits is a story, a traumatic story, and the person who went through that trauma, submitted to that testing, deserves to have that story told.”
The attorney general's office said $1.5 million of a $3 million federal grant will be used to process as many of the unsubmitted kits as possible; an estimated 2,100 at a cost of about $680 each.
That will leave more than 4,300 kits still needing to be tested.
The attorney general said he hopes to secure more federal funding to help close cases like the one KIRO 7 first reported last week, of cold case suspect Darin Bolar, who was recently connected by DNA to the alleged rape of a 14-year old girl multiple times back in 2007.
The victim in that case is now in her mid-20s.
When police contacted her after the recent DNA match, she picked out Bolar from a lineup, according to documents filed in King County Superior Court.
Ferguson is hoping to close thousands more cold case sexual assaults – like the 2007 child rape ---- in the next few years.
“It’s hugely important for the individual, for the victim to have their story told and ultimately to bring people to justice for really horrific crimes,” Ferguson said.
For more info, visit the attorney general's website.
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