Alameda County Shipping Untested Rape Kits to East Coast for Processing

By Christie Smith
|  Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014  |  Updated 12:28 PM PDT
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Justice could be coming soon for rape victims in Alameda County: Hundreds of untested rape kits are about to be shipped to the East Coast to be processed. Christie Smith reports.

Justice could be coming soon for rape victims in Alameda County: Hundreds of untested rape kits are about to be shipped to the East Coast to be processed. Christie Smith reports.

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Justice could be coming soon for rape victims in Alameda County: Hundreds of untested rape kits are about to be shipped to the East Coast to be processed.

Alameda County's district attorney has found money in the budget to pay other labs to test the kits.

A recent audit revealed there are more than 1,900 untested rape kits sitting on police department shelves in Alameda County. That means, sometimes, rape victims are left waiting years for potential clues about suspects.

Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley says she plans to have all 1,900 kits tested. Starting Tuesday, some of them will be sent to a lab in Virginia.

O’Malley said there were a variety of reasons for the backlog. Sometimes, she said, if a perpetrator is known, the test may not be sent in even though they have committed other crimes. Other times, government crime labs are simply overwhelmed.

“We want justice for victims, absolutely,” O’Malley said. “But also, for every person we take off the street who’s been committing these crimes, we’re saving someone from becoming a victim of that crime. And that’s why it’s so critical for us to move this forward and change the way this country has been dealing with this issue.”

Natasha Alexenko is a rape survivor from New York who has started a non-profit, Natasha's Justice Project, that raises funds to help eliminate the backlog so that more rape cases can result in convictions.

Natasha's Justice Project offered to help pay for the project in Alameda County. Alexenko says it’s a huge jumpstart.

“I know my kit sat for 9 1/2 years,” Alexenko said, “and I know what it did for me to finally get that tested. I know what it did for me to know that the man that raped me at gunpoint is behind bars. Knowing that we can help just a little bit bring closure to these people is amazing.”

The Virginia lab can process about 100 kits a month. That’s around the number shipped there from Alameda County on Tuesday. The results will be uploaded into a national crime database.

A new proposed bill proposed by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner would set new time limits for the processing rape kits.

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