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Washington to use federal funds to test rape kits

In this photo taken Oct. 17, 2014, a "PREA response kit," used to gather and preserve evidence in suspected sexual assaults, sits on a counter at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Federal funds will now help test rape kits in the state.
Elaine Thompson
/
The Associated Press
In this photo taken Oct. 17, 2014, a "PREA response kit," used to gather and preserve evidence in suspected sexual assaults, sits on a counter at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Federal funds will now help test rape kits in the state.

Washington has been working to address the backlog of untested rape evidence kits. Now, money from the federal government will help speed the process. An inventory done by the Washington Attorney General's Office last October revealed there were 6,500 untested sexual assault kits sitting in law enforcement evidence rooms around the state. This, despite the extra resources being allocated by the state Legislature to deal with the backlog.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced he is committing  $750,000 from a Department of Justice grant to test more kits.

"Each one of these sexual assault kits tells the story of a survivor and we need to get those tested and do a better job of testing them," Ferguson said.

Ferguson says the money will help the state test about another 1,500 kits. Tests of rape kits have helped solve cold cases around the country and in Washington.

Last year, a Seattle man was charged with the 2007 kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old girl. His DNA was in a rape kit collected that year, but not tested until a decade later.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.