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OSBI leaders address the slow rape kit testing

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 11:25:13-04

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Top leaders of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation released details on the status of rape kit testing and described what resources they have and do not have in addressing the backlog.

The OSBI, the Tulsa Police Department, and the Oklahoma City Police Department grapple with thousands of untested kits. The state agency has jurisdiction over 2,200 untested rape kits. They make up a backlog that has grown for more than 30 years.

“We know these cases are going to identify serial rapists, they’re going to identify murderers, they’re going to identify people that were assaulted years ago,.” said Ricky Adams, OSBI director.

During a Friday afternoon press conference, Adams, and Andrea Fielding, OSBI director of forensic science services, announced they are outsourcing to a Virgina laboratory and are looking to hire another with a recently awarded $1.6 million grant.

“Those grants aren’t always going to be there. Those grants are lobbied for at the federal level almost on a yearly basis,” Danielle Tudor said.

Tudor is a sexual assault survivor and a member of Oklahoma’s sexual assault kit initiative task force. She hopes the state eventually finds permanent funding because they are also working through over 1,000 current rape kits.

“While we have a staggering backlog, we want to assure you we’re doing everything we can, and we’ve got good plans in place to address this as quickly as we can,” Fielding said.

Depending on when the assault happened, it is taking between six months and a year to get one rape kit tested.

“If I were just assaulted and thinking about getting a rape kit done and reporting to law enforcement, it certainly gives me pause knowing that it’ll be a year before my kit’s tested,” said Tudor.

The OSBI is also navigating a staffing shortage. The state legislature granted it a million dollars to hire five new DNA analysts, but it will take two years to train them. With that, the OSBI projects it will take four to five years to clear its rape kit backlog.

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