State has 205 rape kits waiting to be tested

The state has a backlog of 205 rape kits waiting to be processed, something that is expected to take more than six months to complete, according to a report by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research.

Another 40 cases that have been processed are awaiting DNA analysis, which could take an estimated five months, the report says.

All rape kits–which health care workers use to collect physical evidence after a sexual assault–are handled by the Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security’s Forensic Science Laboratory. According to the report, the lab staff triages cases and gives priority to aggravated sexual assaults and those with elderly or young victims.

If the lab did not receive another rape kit, the existing backlog could be cleared in six months, the department’s legislative liaison, Maj. William Podgorski, told OLR.

The backlog of rape kits, which can contain evidence that could identify or rule out a suspect, has drawn media attention in Connecticut and across the country.

Last year, after a survey of 50 states, OLR found that Connecticut’s lab took significantly longer than others–except Rhode Island’s–to test sexual assault evidence. At the time, the Department of Public Safety–now  the Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security–reported an average time of six months for a rape kit to be analyzed when it was the only evidence submitted. When there was other evidence, it took a year.

Read more about the backlog here.