On the heels of the Springfield Sexual Assault Task Force recommending to local officials they push state officials for more accountability in the sexual assault investigation process, State Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced an overwhelming majority of kits are still untested.
The report of the inventory shows that 6,987 sexual assault kits were found by the survey, with 6,157 of those kits untested as of the time of the report. The number of “reported” kits, meaning a police report was included with the kit, was 4,438, leaving 1,719 unreported.
“Earlier this year we announced our Safe Kits initiative, a serious undertaking to clear out the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the state of Missouri. The work that Judge Williams and team have undertaken has been exhaustive, thorough and provides an accurate view of all of the untested sexual assault kits in the state of Missouri,” Attorney General Schmitt said. “It’s important to remember, these kits are not just numbers. They are not footnotes to the reporting of a crime. They represent real human beings, who have suffered, confronted their fears, reported the assault and submitted a kit. A kit that may have been put on a shelf and remained untested. Until now.”
When looking specifically at Greene County, 312 kits were discovered by the survey, 282 of them reported.
The kits were discovered in the following locations:
- 234 at Springfield Police Department
- 30 at Greene County Sheriff’s Office
- 17 at Cox South Hospital
- 12 at Republic Police Department
- 8 at Cox North
- 8 at Willard Police Department
- 1 at Fair Grove Police Department
- 1 at Mercy Hospital
- 1 at Ash Grove Police Department
In other area counties, 37 were found in Christian County, 12 in Webster County, 67 in Taney County (46 with Branson Police Department), and 8 in Stone County.
The attorney general’s office detailed the inventory of rape kits after receiving a $2.8 million federal grant to offset the cost. The agency says they currently only have the funding to test up to 1,250 kits.
The kits will be tested at a private laboratory so it doesn’t overload the state highway patrol laboratory. The testing will coincide with an electronic tracking system for all sexual assault kits in the state.
Attorney General Schmitt had stated in January 2019 that the elimination of the backlog for rape kit testing was a priority.
“We’ve attempted to send those in last year and the highway patrol is refusing to take the backlog rape kits. So the solution [to the backlog] is, accept the rape kits,” Sheriff Jim Arnott told OI, noting that in the case of his office the kits have been accumulated over 20 years.
The Springfield Sexual Assault Task Force noted in their report that many necessary changes to help victims of sexual assault, such as assurances their kits would be tested, would come from the state legislative level. The Task Force also added that Springfield should put in their legislative priorities given to state officials increased priority on sexual assault kits.
“We did not get to this overnight, this is years of victims,” Janice Thompson Gehrke, a member of the Springfield Sexual Assault Task Force, told OI about the Attorney General’s report. “Also consider this, you don’t have someone rape once then think ‘nah, not for me.’ Multiple victims of the same offender wait on those shelves, and there are going to be more.”
Here is the report from the Attorney General:safe-kits-inventory-report