Backlog San Diego County
Contents of a typical rape kit. Photo credit: endthebacklog.org

More than 2,000 rape kits from a dozen San Diego County law enforcement agencies have been tested following their delivery to an independent lab, the latest milestone in a three-year project to clear the county’s untested sexual assault kit backlog, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Of the 2,030 kits submitted, 735 contained DNA other than the victim’s, according to the District Attorney’s Office, which said the testing has resulted in criminal charges being filed in a new case. Larry Gene Rivers, 57, is charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2014, and the DA’s Office says DNA evidence from one of the newly tested kits led to the filing of charges.

“With the filing of a criminal case as a result of our testing project, it’s proof that these sexual assault kits contain powerful evidence that can speak on behalf of victims and help us pursue justice on their behalf years later,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.

The 2,030 kits represent all the previously untested kits from a dozen county agencies dating back to 1990.

As of last month, DNA results from 485 kits have been uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System — or CODIS — database to see if there are potential offender matches, possibly leading to new investigations.

Thus far, the CODIS uploads have produced 167 new offender “hits,” according to the DA’s Office. Of those, 125 are “warm” hits, or results in which the suspect was known to the victim or the victim knew the real name of the suspect and the suspect was identified. The remaining 42 are “cold” hits, or results where the suspect was not known to the victim, or the victim did not provide an actual real name or identification. There have also been 52 case-to- case hits in which a DNA profile from one case matches a DNA profile from a different case.

The DA’s Office said sexual assault kits are still being uploaded into CODIS and investigations are ongoing into the results produced by the CODIS uploads.

“We will continue to prioritize the testing of sexual assault kits and to invest in following up and investigating any hits to determine if a case built on proof beyond a reasonable doubt can be filed,” Stephan said.

Agencies involved in the project include:

  • San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, with 777 kits
  • Escondido Police Department, with 414 kits
  • Oceanside Police Department, with 303 kits
  • Chula Vista Police Department, with 141 kits
  • El Cajon Police Department, with 134 kits
  • Carlsbad Police Department, with 101 kits
  • National City Police Department, with 93 kits
  • San Diego State University Police Department, with 23 kits
  • La Mesa Police Department, with 21 kits
  • UC San Diego Police Department, with 16 kits
  • Cal State University San Marcos Police Department, with four kits
  • Coronado Police Department, with three kits

The figures do not include San Diego Police Department kits, though SDPD has made a determination to send their sexual assault kit inventory to the same outside lab used in the DA’s project.

–City News Service

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