COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that forensic scientists with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have now tested 10,000 rape kits for DNA as part of a special initiative to secure justice for victims of sexual assault in Ohio.
“This is a tremendous milestone,” DeWine said. “The testing of these 10,000 kits has helped identify hundreds of alleged assailants, many of whom repeatedly committed violent attacks.
“Not only is Ohio now a leader in the nation when it comes to testing rape kits, but this effort has also helped spur a culture change in Ohio regarding the investigation of sexual assaults. The initiative demonstrates how critical DNA can be to helping solve crimes and why the timely submission of evidence for testing is so important.”
The 10,000 kits were tested as part of DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative. Attorney General DeWine launched the initiative in 2011 after learning that many law enforcement agencies across the state were in possession of rape kits that had never been sent to a DNA lab for testing. He then asked law enforcement officials to voluntarily send their kits to BCI for DNA testing at no cost to them.
To date, authorities from 252 law enforcement agencies have sent 12,206 rape kits to BCI for testing as part of the special initiative, including many kits that were decades old. The testing has led to 3,629 hits in the Combined DNA Index System, linking crimes to offenders, identifying serial rapists, and giving law enforcement agencies critical evidence to help solve brutal attacks.
In Cuyahoga County, where the majority of the submitted sexual assault kits are from, 445 people have been indicted so far, with 162 of those offenders identified as serial offenders, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. Among those convicted include a man sentenced to life in prison for a string of sexual assaults that took place between 1994 and 1997; a man sentenced to 41 years in prison for forcing or luring four women into his vehicle before raping them between November 1993 and November 1995; and a man sentenced to more than two decades in prison for attacks on two teenagers in 1994.
DeWine also reminds law enforcement that the deadline to submit any remaining untested sexual assault kits associated with a past crime is quickly approaching. Senate Bill 316, which went into effect March 23, 2015, requires law enforcement to submit any remaining older kits to a crime laboratory within one year. Of the more than 12,000 kits submitted to BCI as part of the SAK Testing Initiative, 2,875 were submitted since the law went into effect.