A year-long survey of Iowa law-enforcement agencies indicates they have more than 4,200 untested sexual assault evidence kits in storage. Most of the shelved kits are the result of changes in the circumstances surrounding rape cases.
The state’s Attorney General’s office led the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. It’s funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The study found 43 percent of Iowa police and sheriff’s offices are holding untested kits. The public information officer for the Cedar Rapids police, Greg Buelow, says his department is not sitting on any kits needed as evidence.
“Anytime the perpetrator is unknown, or our county attorney’s office requests us to send it in, those kits are sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation and processed.”
Buelow says in almost all instances, the untested evidence kits are tied to cases in which the victim doesn’t want to press charges, has retracted earlier statements or the incident has been determined to be unfounded or consensual.
“We’re not sitting on any kits that need to be sent in," he says. "As soon as those are collected, and they are needed as part of a case, or in which the perpetrator is unknown, they are sent in.”