Kansas nearly clears ~2,200 untested sexual assault kit backlog

TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) -- For five years the KBI and Kansas Attorney General have worked to identify and test nearly 2,200 untested sexual assault kits across the state.

"We are one of only two states that has been able to conduct all of the testing on the backlog kits in house," Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Some kits dated back as far as 1989.

The findings of their Sexual Assault Kit Initiative were announced during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

They found that 93% of identified suspects had criminal histories that included other violent crimes. Those individuals committed more than 7,000 crimes.

It also led to four prosecutions, and more than 250 victims receiving support.

"We still have a number of cases that are pending review. Kansas is a local jurisdiction state for prosecution purposes,” Schmidt said.

The KBI identified four main factors for the backlogs.

"A broad lack of training, resources, policy guidance, and pronounced lack of societal awareness as to the issues of sexual assault,” KBI Director Kirk Thompson explained.

Through the initiative two model policies were formed.

"A policy to guide them in what happens when the kit comes back from testing in terms of how long it's retained so that it's consistent across the state and compliant with the statute of limitations,” KBI’s Executive Officer, Katie Whisman, sad.

The other policy trained more than 1,300 hundred Kansas professionals on trauma informed sexual assault investigations.

"So that we understand how trauma impacts victims and why it is that they do the things that they do or respond in the ways that they respond,” Whisman added.

The agencies have also joined the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence for a public awareness campaign called ‘Yes, this room.’

More information can be found here at yesthisroom.com

They say one in five Kansans are affected by sexual assault, and hope to further raise awareness about rape culture in the country.

"It is really time that we engage the public in these conversations and that these conversations become commonplace. Until we do that we are not going to be able to reduce victimization of sexual assault. We have to start having these conversations, holding these offenders accountable and putting the blame where it should be,” Director of Advocacy and Education with KCSDV said.

The KBI says 200 kits are left to test. They should be done by the end of the month.