SAN FRANCISCO—In 2010, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors legislated that all rape kits, used to collect biological information from victims of sexual assault following a crime must be tested by the San Francisco Police Department. On Thursday, February 23, authorities confirmed that over 700 untested rape kits from 2003 to 2013 were found in the SFPD’s property rooms.
The 753 untested kits were reportedly first discovered in 2013 after a rape victim complained that her kit had not been examined. In January 2014, a new law mandated that new kits were to be collected within 72 hours of the incident and sent to the crime lab for analysis, which each kit would receive over the course of 2 weeks.
Heather Marlowe, an activist and rape victim (whose attacker was never identified) told the SF Examiner in 2014, “While I appreciate the progress, this also doesn’t account for the other 1,135 unprocessed rape kits that sit untested at the SFPD because they have passed statute of limitations.”
Captain Dan Perea of the SFPD disclosed to ABC 7 News about the case, “We concentrated our efforts on that period testing will produce any information that we can act upon, we won’t have the concern of statutory limitation.”
Perea noted that a 10-year statute placed limitations on cases of sexual assault, in which rape is included. “These weren’t kits that we forgot about or didn’t know existed. There was an investigative or a prosecutorial decision made that the testing of those kits wasn’t required. And at that time, that was the practice,” Perea said to ABC 7 News
He continued, stating that authorities plan to process all of the material which was left unexamined, “It’s about justice actually to survivors. If there’s actionable information from cases in that period and we can move forward, we absolutely want to do that.”
Marlowe, who was sexually assaulted in 2010 at Bay and Breakers told ABC7, “It’s very frustrating to hear this because basically this means that within those 753 unprocessed rape kits, the criminals of those crimes are still out on our streets of San Francisco.”
Marlowe does believe that if authorities test the kits which have been untouched, victims of sexual assault will be more willing to report crimes and have their cases examined.
The SFPD has changed its policies were only rape kits with unidentified suspects were to be tested, but now all rape kits will be examined.
San Francisco News reached out to the SFPD Media Relations Department for additional information, but did not hear back before print.