Wisconsin’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits is no more.
Attorney General Brad Schimel says the remaining kits were sent for testing on Tuesday. “When I took office in 2015, I inherited more than 6,000 sexual assault evidence kits that had never been submitted for testing, some of them dating back to the 1980s.”
Schimel says roughly 4,200 of the kits met the criteria for testing. “The kits that we’re testing are kits that have the victim’s consent, and haven’t otherwise been uploaded to the databank.” Schimel says having a kit tested can sometimes be a traumatic experience for victims, and some of the tests they had on hand were collected without the victim’s consent.
Another roadblock to getting the tests completed was the sheer glut of kits that were sent off to be tested in the past several years. “No labs initially said they’d do this work. We went back with a second request for bids, and we were able to convince Bode Cellmark Labs to get involved.”
Schimel says over 100 thousand sexual assault kits were submitted for testing nationally after media reports criticizing the lack of investigation went public. Three agencies are now testing Wisconsin’s kits.
The DOJ is working from $4 million in grants to get this done, but that they had to do some work for that funding.
“It meant getting the police reports, getting all the other collateral evidence together identifying the circumstances of the sexual assaults. We had to report that to our grant providers before we could start testing a kit,” says Schimel.
The Department of Justice says they’ll be able to start working on investigations and prosecutions once the testing is completed by the end of the year.