Rape Kits – How important are they?
By Steven C. Townsend
I recently won a rape/sex assault trial where DNA was a crucial piece of evidence obtained by a rape kit. How significant was the evidence? The DNA extracted from the rape kit showed that my client was excluded from the profiles obtained. What is so disturbing is what happened during the trial.
On cross-examination of the lead detective, I asked if he ever submitted the rape kit and the other samples for testing. He agreed that he requested the rape kit and submitted it for testing but amazingly said he never reviewed the results. How important or significant was this evidence? Apparently, it was not significant enough for the detective to review the final analysis of the rape kit. He testified that he had no idea what the results of the rape kit showed or the DNA testing. This is after there were dozens of samples obtained from the rape kit itself as well as other areas of the site of the alleged rape. I could not believe it when he testified that he never reviewed the reports. I even asked him again to make sure I wasn’t missing something.
My client was found NOT GUILTY of those charges.
I only write about this case after I read the article attached below on how our State is not effectively using rape kits or failing to test the rape kits that are in storage. How many people are sitting in jail and prison because the system refuses or neglects to test its own evidence? The article goes on to talk about inadequate communication may be a reason for the problems.
I wonder how the “communication” issues would have affected my client had the rape kit been taken and thrown in a storage closet for the next 10 years. We have the technology and the budget to utilize our scientific evidence, but for some reason, those who are facing decades of incarceration don’t deserve a level playing field according to our State.