Idaho State Police: Backlog of rape test kits cleared

<p><p>Associated Press</p></p><p><p>BOISE – Testing of a backlog of 1,100 rape kits first identified in a 2016 audit has been completed, Idaho State Police said.</p></p><p><p>The agency in a news release Wednesday said reports on the test results have been provided to investigators and prosecutors. The agency also said any hits in the National DNA Index System have been provided to local law enforcement.</p></p><p><p>The 2016 audit led to questions about local and state law enforcement treatment of sexual assault victims. The audit also led to the Idaho Legislature unanimously passing legislation that year involving processing sexual assault kits. The law had an estimated cost of more than $200,000 annually.</p></p><p><p>Democratic state Sen. Melissa Wintrow, who sponsored the legislation when she was a representative, said completing testing on the rape kits was an important milestone in how the state views sexual assault victims.</p></p><p><p>“It sends a really powerful message to people who are harmed this way that, ‘Hey we are going to take these seriously, and it matters. It matters a ton,’ ” she told the Idaho Statesman. “I’m very relieved.”</p></p><p><p>Matthew Gamette, Laboratory System director of Idaho State Police Forensic Services, said the agency is leading a statewide multidisciplinary team in addressing culture change relating to investigation, prosecution, and treatment of sexual assault survivors.</p></p><p><p>“This is a major step in building trust among sexual assault survivors, for assisting law enforcement, and providing critical information to policymakers,” said Gamette. “Overall, the completion of these previously unsubmitted kits in Idaho is part of a bigger initiative to keep Idaho communities safe and combat the crime of sexual assault.”</p></p><p><p>Since the rape kit law was passed in 2016, he said, the state has put in place a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system and worked to ensure sexual assault survivors receive proper care. Part of that includes having specially trained nurses, and training medical providers as part of a strategy that ultimately will also help the state’s criminal justice system in prosecutions.</p></p><p><p>“Our management and scientific staff recognized the critical importance of this work and put in exceptional effort to complete this project,” said Colonel Kedrick Wills of the Idaho State Police. “I am proud of their accomplishment and what it means for solving and prosecuting crime in Idaho.”</p></p>