Testing nearly 5,000 forgotten and backlogged rape kits in Cuyahoga County has lead to indictments, prosecutions and more than 250 convictions, according to a Case Western Reserve University statement Monday.
New data also shows serial rapists are more common than past research suggested, the university said.
In 2013, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty organized a multi-agency task force to investigate DNA evidence generated by a sexual assault kit testing initiative.
Case Western said a year later, McGinty approached the university's Begun Center to mine data accumulated through nearly 5,000 rape kits collected but not tested for DNA between 1993 and 2010.
On June 6, 2016, Case Western announced early findings that include:
• Serial rapists are far more common than previous studies had suggested. Of the 243 sexual assaults studied, 51 percent were tied to serial offenders, who generally had more extensive and violent criminal histories than one-time sexual offenders.
• Rapists have long criminal histories that often began before their first documented sexual assault and continued after it.
“These are one-man crime waves,” McGinty said.
• Serial and one-time rape suspects exhibited different behaviors during their crimes. For example, sexual assaults committed by serial offenders more frequently involved kidnapping victims and then verbally and physically threatening them, often with weapons. And yet sexual assaults committed by serial offenders less frequently involved restraining victims and injuring them in order to complete the attack. One-time offenders were actually more likely to punch, slap, hold down or restrain a victim.
• Serial offenders were more frequently strangers to their victims compared to one-time offenders.
• Most victims, even in the backlog, initially cooperated with police. The drop-off came after the first reporting encounter between investigators and victims: 69 percent did not respond to further attempts to be contacted by police.
In the future, the university hopes research provides a deeper understanding of different types of serial and one-time offenders and explores the characteristics of victims that significantly impact an investigation and prosecution of a rape allegation.