INDIANAPOLIS — A first-of-its-kind survey of Indiana law enforcement agencies and health care providers has found 2,560 completed sexual assault examination kits — that potentially could be used at a criminal trial — never have been submitted for laboratory testing.
State Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, whose Senate Resolution 55 prompted the survey, said he's grateful there now is a definitive number to back up the many anecdotal stories of untested rape kits across the state.
"We needed to know the scope of the problem before we could start trying to find solutions to the issue of untested sexual assault examination kits," Crider said.
According to the survey, there are 238 kits with untested potential evidence held by law enforcement agencies in Lake County, 20 in LaPorte County and 16 in Porter County.
Tracey Horth Krueger, CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault, said the survey results confirm what she's been hearing for years from Hoosier women.
"Now we have the numbers, and that is an incredibly important place to start," Krueger said. "We had no idea what the number would be, but now we know, and that's information and that gives us power to move forward."
Crider said he plans to file legislation in January to encourage local police agencies to submit their untested kits for examination as soon as possible and expects his colleagues in the Republican-controlled General Assembly will support the effort.
"This isn't a partisan issue," Crider said.
"This is a situation where everybody recognizes the challenge, and everybody is interested in doing the very best that we can to move this to a better place in Indiana."
He said legislators and law enforcement recognize that "each one of those kits represents some lady's life."
"She's already been through a horrible incident and then the collection of the kit is not a fun procedure either," Crider said.
"So anything that's appropriate to be tested, we want to make sure that we're trying to get those in the system and processed."
Altogether, the survey found 5,396 completed kits in the hands of local law enforcement statewide.
But more than half were deemed ineligible for testing for a variety of reasons.
For example, 416 kits are from "Jane Doe" victims who are not actively seeking to prosecute the person who allegedly sexually assaulted them.
Crider said their kits cannot be submitted for testing without the victim's permission.
Another 1,669 kits were identified as "no crime," "false report" or situations where the perpetrator confessed and it was determined there was no need to spend approximately $1,000 to collect kit evidence when there would be no trial and the perpetrator's DNA would be recorded and entered in a national database anyway upon conviction.
Finally, Crider said 751 kits were connected to cases adjudicated possibly years or decades ago, but still were being held by police in case of appeal or until the statute of limitations expires on a related non-charged crime.
According to the state police, 780 sexual assault examination kits from across Indiana were processed during the first 11 months of 2017.