JEFFERSON CITY — Attorney General Schmitt announced in a Nov. 20 press conference the results of a statewide inventory of all untested sexual assault kits as part of his SAFE Kits Initiative.
The study found that 12 Webster County rape kits have gone untested.
The Webster County Sheriff’s Office has seven untested rape kits. Marshfield Police have two, Rogersville Police have two, and Seymour Police have one.
No untested rape kits were found in three other jurisdictions: Niangua Police, Fordland Police and Marshfied VA Clinic.
The numbers compare favorably to Greene County, which had 312 untested rape kits — although to the people who were swabbed to provide samples following an alleged rape, this may be little comfort.
In the state inventory, which was an exhaustive review of untested sexual assault kits stored by hospitals, law enforcement and ancillary organizations, 6,987 sexual assault kits were found.
Shortly after Judge M. Keithley Williams was announced as the head of the SAFE Kit Initiative, the inventory was divided into six geographic regions, with the larger, more rural regions being completed first. A $2.8 million dollar grant was provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Attorney General’s Office has received 75% of the grant, and has applied for the remaining 25% of the grant.
The inventory resulted in 6,987 sexual assault kits. 6,157 of those kits were untested. Of the untested kits, 4,438 were reported, meaning they had a police report to go along with them, and 1,719 were unreported, without an accompanying police report.
All of the Webster County kits were reported.
Attorney General Schmitt noted, “It’s important to remember, these kits are not just numbers. They are not footnotes to the reporting of a crime. They represent real human beings, who have suffered, confronted their fears, reported the assault and submitted a kit. A kit that may have been put on a shelf and remained untested. Until now.”
The next steps entail creating an electronic tracking system and testing kits. The grant from BJA will cover a certain portion of the testing, which will take place at a private testing lab as to not overload the state highway patrol lab.
"Completing the inventory of Missouri’s untested sexual assault kits is an important first step in ensuring that all survivors have access to justice. We look forward to continuing our work with the Attorney General's Office and our partners on the SAKI Working Group as we proceed with our next steps in this process." Julie Donelon, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. "The release of the inventory results reinforces what we knew to be true — our state let down survivors of sexual violence. But moving forward, what we also know to be true is that collaboration is key," said Jennifer Carter-Dochler, Public Policy Director for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault.