MO AG announces effort to tackle untested sexual assault kits

WATCH: Missouri AG announces effort to tackle untested sexual assault kits

COLUMBIA, MO (KFVS) - Missouri’s Attorney General hosted a press conference in Columbia, Mo. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 to announce efforts to tackle the issue of untested rape kits.

The conference started at 10:30 a.m. at True North Columbia Shelter.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the appointment of the Honorable Judge M. Keithley Williams as State Coordinator of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

Judge Williams is a former trial judge and treatment court administrator, and has over 40 years of experience in working with law enforcement.

“Reporting a sexual assault is incredibly difficult, a decision that takes a tremendous amount of bravery. We firmly believe that victims should have the peace of mind of knowing that when they come forward to report such a heinous crime they will be taken seriously and their sexual assault kit will be examined. Tragically, thousands of sexual assault kits remain untested in Missouri, therefore offenders go undetected and unpunished,” said Schmitt. “The citizens of this state will be well served by Judge Williams, who has over 40 years of experience working with law enforcement, as she spearheads this important statewide project. Her experience as a trial judge and treatment court administrator make her more than qualified to lead this charge. Law enforcement work thanklessly every day to prevent and investigate crime, and I look forward to working together to augment their efforts to examine these untested kits and work toward justice for victims of sexual assault.”

Judge Williams said he was honored to lead the initiative.

“Within six months, we will complete a detailed inventory of sexual assault kits with police departments and hospitals in Missouri," he said. "We will then tackle forensic DNA testing and the development of an electronic tracking system required by law. Working together with law enforcement, health care professionals, victim advocates and concerned citizens, we will seek justice for all those who have been victimized.”

Attorney General Schmitt said that he also talked to law enforcement agencies in counties across the state announcing the initiative and asked for their cooperation.

There are currently thousands of untested rape kits waiting to be examined in the state of Missouri, according to the Office of the Attorney General. The first step of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is to start the process of logging untested sexual assault kits.

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