Outside Cleveland, Ohio rape kit prosecutions in older cases still rare, Plain Dealer survey reveals

photo : cleveland

 

Testing rape kits for DNA may be the law in Ohio. But following up on the results to reinvestigate the crimes is not.

Aside from Cleveland, which has logged convictions in 370 rape kit cases since 2013, only a few dozen other cases across the state have made it to a courtroom.

A survey of law enforcement agencies statewide, conducted by The Plain Dealer and community volunteers, found that in many cases, police departments and sheriff’s offices are not reinvestigating thousands of older cases tested in recent years, even when DNA results identify possible suspects or linked cases.

Agencies that have followed-up cases say victims are often reluctant to have their cases reopened, or they recant allegations, if they can locate them at all. When police do have a victim willing to cooperate, prosecutors often decline to file charges or present the case to a grand jury.

The Plain Dealer, with the help of more than 100 community volunteers, attempted to survey all 294 law enforcement agencies that sent in rape kits for testing as part of the Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative, which kicked off in late 2011 when Attorney General Mike DeWine issued an “open call” for the more than 800 law enforcement agencies in Ohio to send any kits that had not previously been tested for DNA.

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