As we have shared previously, Ohio is making strides toward ending its rape kit backlog. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) reports that of 1,165 kits tested so far, there have been 322 DNA matches in CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System. From those matches, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has already secured 33 indictments and has an additional 122 leads to investigate.
Under Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative, law enforcement agencies are to submit the untested kits at their departments to BCI. To date, BCI has received 3,180 untested rape kits from 91 law enforcement agencies. The Cleveland Police Department has submitted the most kits—more than 1,000—followed by Akron, Cincinnati and Toledo. BCI began testing the oldest rape kits first in order to move cases forward before the 20-year statute of limitations expires.
According to Rick Bell, the Criminal Investigations Chief for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, approximately 1,000 DNA matches are expected to result from the testing of the submitted kits. Mr. Bell added:
“This is a monumental task, but we are committed to working collaboratively with the Attorney General, Cleveland police and our county sheriff. Victims will be located and perpetrators brought to justice.”
To manage the influx of untested rape kits and prevent a backlog of current kits, BCI hired four additional scientists. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has dedicated several investigators to assist with locating survivors whose kits are now being tested and to work with Cleveland sex crimes detectives and BCI agents to investigate leads. Victim advocates are helping survivors who are receiving news about their rape kits to navigate the process. For many of these survivors, it has been decades since they reported their rapes.