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Iowa needs stronger rules for evidence of possible sexual assault

With the help of $3 million in federal grants, the Iowa Sexual Assault Kit Initiative has completed the state’s first comprehensive inventory of sexual assault kits that have been stored without being submitted to a crime laboratory for analysis.

In the coming months Iowa’s Crime Victim Assistance Division will expend $1.25 million more in federal grant money to process the bulk of these kits. DNA profiles resulting from those tests will be cross-referenced with a national criminal justice database. If a match is found, prosecutors and law enforcement will be notified for further investigation and possible criminal charges. But there’s one more critical step to clearing Iowa’s rape evidence kit backlog: Making sure it doesn’t happen again.

The kits contain forensic evidence of possible sex crimes — swabs of different body areas and other items that may contain DNA. Each of the 4,265 untested kits identified in the inventory, held by 168 law enforcement agencies throughout the state, represents a potential crime victim.

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