Rape Kit

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Horror stories of untested, long-forgotten and even moldy sexual assault evidence kits have been a problem in Texas for years. And those forgotten kits have been on Becky O’Neal’s mind for a long time. 

KUT

When Austin Police Chief Brian Manley announced last week that state auditors had found problems with how police classify rape cases, some people were not shocked by the news.

Pexels

From Texas Standard:

The next Texas legislative session kicks off in less than a week, and one issue facing lawmakers will be how to address the backlog of about 15,000 untested rape kits. One solution lawmakers proposed during the last session was to give Texans the option to donate to a fund for kit testing when applying for, or renewing a driver's license or vehicle registration. Texans did donate, and the state collected more than $560,000.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A national investigation into how police departments solve rape cases discovered that some departments consider a case cleared even when there is no arrest and the suspect is still on the streets. The number of these "exceptionally cleared" cases in Austin, in particular, has raised concerns.  

Brian Cantoni/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For victims of sexual assault, collecting and testing a rape kit can mean the difference between solving a crime and allowing a perpetrator go free. In Texas, as in other states, rape kits are often collected but never tested because funds are not available. One lawmaker wants to give citizens the opportunity to contribute to a solution.

flickr/snre

Update: The Austin City Council has approved a $3.6 million, six-year contract with Dallas County to send the evidence there for testing. 

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Five years ago, Moira Foley was a nurse in New Orleans. She remembers the night a teenager, a rape victim, came into her hospital. 

“We had our evidence collection kit, and this poor 16 year old who had been assaulted at Mardi Gras, and we literally had to open the kit and read the instructions," Foley remembers.

"And as I’m standing there doing it, I’m thinking, 'This is her evidence. If this goes to trial, it’s us who this is on, and we don’t know what we’re doing.'" 

That’s when she decided to get certified to perform sexual assault forensic exams, or SAFE exams. Now, she’s one of nine nurses at St. David’s who perform SAFE exams in a small room in the back of the ER.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Only 35 percent of injured sexual assault victims in the U.S. receive medical care, according to a new study that suggests not enough nurses are trained to help victims and conduct forensic exams.

But there’s an effort to change that.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center is working on a forensic nursing program that would boost the number of the state’s nurses trained to help rape victims seek care and justice.