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Mass Review of Untested Rape Kits Produces First Charges

Lake County ordered review of all untested kits after inventory found more than 2,500 statewide

(CROWN POINT, Ind.) - Lake County's review of more than 200 untested rape kits has produced its first criminal charges.

A state-ordered inventory in December found more than 2,500 rape kits statewide with no clear explanation of why they'd never been tested. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter ordered tests on 238 found there. Prosecutors credit the untested kits with corroborating the story of a Merrillville woman who said three men coaxed her into a strip drinking game in 2014, then raped her once she was too drunk to consent.

Spokesman Brad Carter says there's no way to tell how long it will take to get all the results back. The sheer volume of untested kits sent to the State Police lab creates a backlog in itself, and the county sends all its other evidence-analysis requests there as well, from ballistics to clothing. And Carter says any test needed for an upcoming trial jumps to the front of the line.

Even when the results are ready, they won't necessarily lead to charges. Prosecutors would either need to have a suspect in mind they could get a comparison sample from, as in the Merrillville case, or get a match with the national DNA database. If there's nothing to match the sample against, it'll remain in evidence in case a match surfaces later.

(Photo: BSIP/UIG/Getty Images)


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