Philly clears rape kit backlog, works to ID suspects

Kristen Johanson
May 02, 2019 - 2:40 pm
DA Larry Krasner and authorities have announced that there are no more backlogged rape kits, thanks to grant money and investigative efforts.

Kristen Johanson/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Top Philadelphia authorities have announced that there are no more backlogged rape kits, thanks to grant money and investigative efforts. They are now working to identify and arrest rape suspects.   

Since about 2015, forensic scientists and lab technicians have been working around the clock to clear out more than 1,500 untested rape kits, some dating back to the '80s, with the help of about $1.5 million in grant money. That's $910,000 from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative under the Department of Justice and $419,000 grant from the New York District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr.

The DNA collected from the rape kits is entered into the national DNA database CODIS (which stands for Combined DNA Index System), and suspects are developed. 

"We will double-check with the victim to make sure the connection is not to a consensual sexual partner, to rule out any wrongful apprehensions," said Branwen McNabb, supervisor of the family violence and sexual assault unit in the district attorney's office.

"Once we know that it's not a consensual partner and we are able to identify it, then law enforcement will be able to track down the perpetrator," she said.

She says they've made several arrests already, with more to come. 

Advocates hope the clearance will encourage other sexual assault victims to come forward.