OSP finishes testing backlog of 5,000 rape kits

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon State Police have finished testing a backlog of thousands of rape kits that have been in evidence for years.

A backlog of untested rape kits in the Portland Police Bureau (KOIN, file)
A backlog of untested rape kits in the Portland Police Bureau (KOIN, file)

More than 5,000 Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits were kept in evidence storage because only kits that could potentially solve an open investigation were tested. The backlog was discovered in 2015.

New legislation passed in 2016 gave way to testing thousands of those kits to create a growing database of what police call “DNA fingerprints,” which have been added to the FBI’s national database, CODIS.  

Additional staffing at the crime lab and a grant to pay for outside testing allowed Oregon State Police to test those 5,000 kits in the past two years.

“For the sake of justice and Oregon’s sexual assault survivors, Oregon’s public safety leaders made the submission and testing of SAFE kits a priority at all levels of law enforcement,” OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton said. “This success story would not have been possible without the collaboration of Oregon’s Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, District Attorneys, legislators, health workers, and sexual assault survivors and their advocates.”

The ongoing testing of backlogged kits has lead to arrests in several old cases.

Recently there have been 5 indictments in Multnomah County related to old rape kits. Steven Guy Tubbs was convicted in August 2018 and sentenced to 100 months in prison, Curtis Williams was convicted in June 2018, Jose Oscar Rosales was sentenced to 210 days in jail, Jihand Moore was found guilty of rape on October 31 and Chanh Van Tran is awaiting trial. 

And in Lane County, Jeffrey Van Arkel was sentenced earlier this year for raping a teenage girl in 2005 after a match from a rape test kit.

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