• Lawmakers confront price tag for rape kit backlog

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    Robert Childs was just accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 2006, because the rape kit that identified his DNA wasn't even tested until late last year.

    State crime labs are overwhelmed with a backlog of some 8,000 rape kits waiting to be tested.

    Leah Griffin told us she had to push to get her kit tested after she was raped in April 2014.

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    “Right now, it is taking 14 months in Washington State to test a rape kit, which means that survivors are waiting over a year,” she said.

    Griffin told the House Appropriations Committee that the wait itself is traumatic.

    “In 14 months, I had PTSD, I struggled to leave my apartment, I struggled to keep down food, I couldn't go to my job and had to take medical leave and all of this happened as a result of waiting on justice.”

    House Bill 1166 addresses the backlog with a new high-speed laboratory which would be added to the state crime lab in Vancouver. It would hire 20 additional scientists and technicians and train investigators to question survivors more compassionately but it would cost $13 million.

    Des Moines Democrat Rep. Tina Orwall is the prime sponsor.

    “When you think about the cost, the cost to human lives and people suffering, people reoffending and hurting more people in our community. It's actually a small investment to fix our broken system,” Rep. Orwall said.

    Goldendale Republican Gina Mosbrucker is a co-sponsor.

    “We've allowed perpetrators to re-offend and this bill will stop that. And this bill will make sure that we're one of the few states that will have all the backlog tested,” said Rep. Mosbrucker.

    Leah Griffin's rape kit was eventually tested but other legal issues kept the perpetrator from being prosecuted.

    “Absolutely not,” she responded when asked if she will ever get justice.

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