KY gets $3 million to fight sexual assault, rape - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

KY gets $3 million to fight sexual assault, rape

The new grant will do more than just helping to clear the backlog of untested rape kits. (Source: WAVE 3 News) The new grant will do more than just helping to clear the backlog of untested rape kits. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A grant will soon help expedite the testing of a backlog of rape kits in Kentucky.

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced the state is receiving a $3 million grant to help with testing sexual assault and rape kits and speeding up the process for justice for victims.

Some sexual assault and rape victims in Kentucky have waited decades for justice.

An audit in 2015 revealed more than 3,000 untested rape and sexual assault kits statewide.

"They represented survivors, real people who had suffered real pain," Attorney General Andy Beshear said Wednesday.

A previous $2 million grant from the District Attorney of New York helped the state send those kits to be tested.

The new grant will go a step further, testing 1,500 more kits. It will also create a unit to investigate old cold cases, and create a research team to look into new policies to prevent the backlog from ever happening again.

"Testing the kits was just the beginning," Beshear said.

Dr. Brad Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville, will help lead the research portion of the grant.

"Even just one or two is an issue," Campbell said of the untested kits. "It's frustrating to see that there's that delayed justice."

He's done this sort of research before as a masters student in Houston. There, he learned the backlog came from a system-wide break down. So he worked to create 'victim-first' policies.

"The victims are involved and informed every step of the way so that we don't have another situation where we might have a kit that doesn't get tested," Campbell said.

"It means we're going to be accountable about how we go investigating," Beshear said.

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Thanks to new laws from Senate Bill 63, which passed in 2016 and created regulations around sexual assault and rape kits, paired with the money, the state is setting an example.

"There are states that are kind of modeling Kentucky and looking at what they've done," Campbell said.

While all 3,000 kits have been tested, they still have to go through a review process. So far, 970 have made it through that process. About 300 DNA profiles have been created and officials have matched more than 100 DNA hits already in the system.

There's been one indictment so far. It happened in Jefferson County and the man accused is already in jail for several rape counts.

Kentucky was one of seven states to receive the new grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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