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Ohio law requires officers to submit rape kits within 30 days, but no consequences if they don't

Posted at 8:03 PM, Feb 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 12:19:19-05

News 5 first broke the story over six years ago - learning nearly 14,000 rape kits had been sitting on shelves untested, some dating back to the 1970's.

Backlog of 14,000 rape kits finally cleared

Cleveland detective failed to submit rape kits

Just last week, the Ohio Attorney General announced the backlog of rape kits had been cleared. News 5 has since learned the Cleveland Police Department, were still holding onto some untested kits until recently.

Starting in 2011, AG Mike Dewine asked police departments statewide to send the untested evidence to a crime lab. In 2014, a state law passed requiring all law enforcement to submit rape kits within 30 days. After that law was put on the books, a Cleveland Police officer allegedly broke it.

"A detective assigned to the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit failed to properly submit 187 sexual assault kits for testing," said CPD spokesperson Sargent Jennifer Ciaccia.

But if the detective is found to be at fault once the department completes it's investigation, the law does not give a clear answer on repercussions.

The issue is not unique to Ohio. Even in Illinois, which was called a national model for rape kit legislation, no consequences are laid out for law enforcement who fail to submit kits.

"Survivors submitted the evidence to be tested, and we believe that it should be," said Rape Crisis Center chief external affairs officer Sarah Trimble.

Trimble says she's not only disheartened about the recent untested kits, but she also said CPD probably has thousands more from before 1993 which they aren't required to test, because the statute of limitations are up.

"Untested kits create a climate where survivors of rape and sexual abuse don't have faith in the systems that are there to provide support services to them," she said.

The 187 previously untested kits are now in the lab awaiting results.