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Thursday, May 30, 2024

NC ends rape kit backlog, AG Stein announces

(Courtesy Port City Daily)

NORTH CAROLINA — A years-long accumulation of untested sexual assault evidence in North Carolina has ended, according to an announcement this week from Attorney General Josh Stein.

A rape kit is a package of items used to gather forensic evidence for sexual assaults. The DOJ reviewed the state’s inventory of sexual assault kits in 2017 and found over 16,000 were untested, with almost 11,858 needing review. 

According to a DOJ press release, 11,841 have been tested so far. Over 5,000 DNA samples have been entered into the CODIS database, the Combined DNA Index System. 2,024 samples had links to offenders in the system from previous convictions and arrests, and DOJ states law enforcement has made 114 arrests from the new database entries.

Stein expressed gratitude for the bipartisan passage of the 2019 Survivor Act, which provided $6 million to test sexual assault kits, created a new review team and prioritization of untested sexual assault evidence. District 16 representative Carson Smith, a former Pender County sheriff, was one of the bill’s sponsors. The DOJ also created a new monitoring system to prevent future backlogs.

“For far too long, the majority of sexual assault survivors were not getting the justice they deserved in North Carolina,” Monika Johnson-Hostler, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a press release. “Thanks to this effort, cold cases are moving forward and survivors can be assured that the justice system in this state cares about what happened to them and is fighting for them.”

Port City Daily reached out to the Wilmington Police Department, New Hanover Sheriff’s Office, and District Attorney’s office to ask how the Survivor Act and end of the rapekit backlog have impacted their investigations but did not receive a response by press.


Tips or comments? Email journalist Peter Castagno at peter@localdailymedia.com.

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