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Rape charges

From left are Ajahn D. Batty, Joshua W. Shipp and David G. Werner.

Imagine yourself, your daughter, wife, sister or mother being raped and then waiting four years for any potential sign of justice.

A woman who prosecutors believe was raped by three men in a Merrillville apartment in 2014 knows precisely what that's like.

Any agents of law enforcement who allowed this travesty should be made to account for it.

It's just one of potentially dozens of cases in the Region — and hundreds statewide — under review because rape testing kits were allowed to languish, untested, in evidence rooms rather than being used to seek justice.

In the recent case, three men, Ajahn D. Batty, 25; Joshua W. Shipp, 23, and David G. Werner, 26, each was charged with two counts of felony rape and criminal confinement in the Sept. 30, 2014, incident.

The men are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.

But the case was all-but-forgotten because a rape kit — including biological evidence collected in a highly invasive procedure after the victim claimed sexual assault in 2014 — sat untested in a Merrillville Police Department evidence locker.

It was tested only just recently as part of an effort by the Lake County prosecutor to reopen 240 cases in which evidence gathered in local rape cases never was submitted to the state police lab for testing.

We're glad a dogged pursuit to make right on these past law enforcement wrongs has begun.

Prosecutor Bernard Carter said four deputy prosecutors in his office now are dedicated to working with police to identify and submit for testing the previously untested kits.

The charges against Shipp, Werner and Batty are an early return on potential justice.

To truly fix this problem, however, a systematic injustice must be corrected. Marginalization has no place in a police response to rape allegations.

Women who submit to testing and detail rape allegations deserve the serious attention of law enforcement. They don't deserve to have crucial evidence chucked into an evidence closet to collect dust.

Victims of rape deserve understanding, respect and the dogged pursuit of truth and justice.

Anything less is a shameful failure. We all should be screaming for justice on the victims’ behalf.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.