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NC clears backlog of rape testing kits, attorney general announces

NORTH CAROLINA — North Carolina attorney general Josh Stein announced the state has cleared its backlog of rape kits.

It’s a major breakthrough in the pursuit of justice, and it’s an issue Channel 9 has reported on for years.

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In 2019, state investigators learned there were tens of thousands of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits in the state.

“There were more than 16,000 untested rape kits on the shelves of local law enforcement agencies across the state. More than any other in this country,” Stein said in a news conference Tuesday. “That number was unacceptable.”

The elimination of the backlog will make a major impact on North Carolina -- from lawmakers, to advocates, to survivors.

“Most recently, because of the work from the state crime lab and our detectives, a 34-year-old case was solved,” said Raleigh Police Department Chief Estella D. Patterson.

“Rape kits give the victims a voice,” said Ms. Linda, a sexual assault survivor. “Empowers victims to learn how to heal from the inside to the outside.”

In 2019, North Carolina’s Survivor Act established a clear process to test older kits, provided funding, and set standards to ensure that law enforcement sends new kits for testing in a timely manner.

As of this month, 11,841 kits have been tested or are in the process of being tested. More than 2,000 of those samples matched DNA from offenders, and law enforcement has made 114 arrests based on those hits.

Staff members at Safe Alliance in Charlotte believe the survivors they work with could see impacts as well.

“I know prior to this moment, it took about over a year for most people to receive those results back,” Abby Moran said.

“When someone is in that healing process, and then this comes up a year later, it’s incredibly re-traumatizing,” she added.

Moran said justice looks different for everyone, and Safe Alliance provides survivors with other resources available through their 24/7 Hope Line. Click here to learn more.

(WATCH BELOW: NC leaders cracking down on backlogged rape kits)


Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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