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Attorney General releases preliminary rape kit audit

The preliminary rape kit audit indicates 4,889 untested sexual assault kits are currently in the possession of law enforcement agencies, crime labs, and healthcare providers in Missouri (Elizabeth Hoffman/KRCG 13).

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Thursday released a preliminary report of results from a statewide rape kit audit conducted by his office.

"One in six women will face assault in their life times," Hawley announced during the press conference at his office.

The preliminary report indicates 4,889 untested sexual assault kits are currently in the possession of law enforcement agencies, crime labs, and healthcare providers in Missouri.

"The shame is not theirs. The shame of sexual assault is ours if we do not join together in prevention and intervention to ensure the violence ends," Colleen Coble of The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence said.

Hawley said rape kits are an important tool to keep people of the community safe and to determine when a crime has occurred.

"For victims, these kits represent an act of bravery," he said.

"For law enforcement, these kits represent a chance to put criminals behind bars."

Legislation passed by the General Assembly this session addresses the need for clear guidelines on how to handle rape kits.

In April, the state legislature authorized the Attorney General's Office to apply for a $3 million federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant to begin testing the backlog of kits.

"An important step forward in Missouri to address the needs of the more than 7,000 victims of sexual assault," Coble added.

Hawley explained how the consolidated effort could likely have a domino effect.

"Perpetrators often have more than one victim," he said.

"One survivor's kit might prevent future attacks on others or lead to a break in another case."

Hawley said his office also hopes to use the funds to develop a tracking system for victims to monitor a sexual assault evidence kit from collection through prosecution.

For a complete copy of the preliminary report, click here.

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