Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has announced his office will conduct an audit of a reported backlog of unprocessed rape kits across the state.
The Missourian newspaper reports no one knows the total number of untested sexual assault evidence “kits” in Missouri, including the State Highway Patrol and the advocate organization Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Missouri is in the minority of states that has never done a statewide audit, as 32 already have.
The newspaper reported that last summer in a Columbia sexual assault case, a highway patrol lab technician said there is a 900-case backlog.
But that number includes DNA from crimes against property and people. No law requires that any agency to audit the number of unprocessed rape kits they are storing.
In a statement, Hawley “Rape kits provide a powerful tool for identifying and prosecuting potential sex criminals. But both in Missouri and across the country, thousands of rape kits go untested, hamstringing law enforcement efforts to prosecute offenders.”
Hawley further vowed to find a way for all rape kits to be properly processed. “Our investigation will determine the scope of the problem in Missouri, the agencies responsible, and the ways we can implement reform,” Hawley said.