WSP gets $1.6M grant to test backlog of rape kits

KING 5's Natalie Swaby reports.

Washington State Patrol received a $1.6 million grant to begin testing a backlog of 6,000 sexual assault kits.

The grant was part of $3.7 million that the U.S. Department of Justice awarded to several groups, including WSP and the University of Washington.

The grant for untested rape kits, which totaled $1,559,282, was the largest sum of money given to a single initiative in Washington state.

The new funding will allow the state to send thousands of rape kits to an outside lab for testing. 

Representative Tina Orwall sponsored a bill that Governor Inslee signed into law in 2015. It requires police departments to submit rape kit evidence within 30 days of collection.

"I think it is our job at the state level to fix the system, go back and test the kits, and make sure it never happens again," said Orwall.

Mary Ellen Stone is the Executive Director of King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

"What I am hoping for is that we can see this as a step toward getting a more transparent, fair justice system for victims, where victims of sexual assault can see how their rights are being upheld. They can understand what the process is going to be. Testing kits in an expedient way is a really important part of that," said Stone. 

WSP also received a $741,964 grant to improve state crime records, including researching missing records, finding incomplete records, and improving how records are input into databases.

UW won a $902,440 grant to improve the strength of DNA evidence. In conjunction with WSP, the university also won a $509,728 grant to advance work on damaged or mixed DNA samples.

King County's Sexual Assault Resource Line is 888-99-VOICE.

In 2014, former KING 5 Investigator Linda Byron learned Seattle Police tested just 22 percent of rape kits. Watch Byron’s series of stories on how sexual assault was handled in Washington state:

SPD leaves most rape kit evidence on the shelf (November 25, 2014)

 

Rape evidence ignored by police departments statewide (January 22, 2015)

 

Few Washington hospitals offer rape exams for victims (May 28, 2015)

 

Funds lacking to clear backlog of untested rape kits (December 29, 2015)

 

Federal audit finds many hospitals not staffed to conduct rape exams (April 14, 2016)

© 2017 KING-TV


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