Testing underway on hundreds of rape kits sent to State Crime Lab

The Washington State Crime Lab to examine hundreds of untested sexual assault kits. (KOMO)

SEATTLE - The King County Sheriff’s Office is readying nearly 300 untested sexual assault kits – some years old – for testing by the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory.

For nearly two years, King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski has been working on getting the kits tested. Earlier this year the council gave the sheriff’s office $200,000 to pay a group of detectives overtime to get the job done.

Dembowski said the council push was inspired by a new state law that went into effect last year. The law requires all police agencies in the state to as the State Patrol crime lab to test every new rape kit – as long as the victim agrees to it.

In the case of the sheriff’s office, the untested cases have been in a refrigerated evidence room.

In an interview with KOMO last month, Sheriff John Urquhart said “there was no evidentiary value we could get from those kits because of the particular case they were involved with- it was a known suspect or the victim had recanted or something along those lines.”

The King County Council on Monday approved the work by the King County Sheriff’s Office investigating nearly 300 untested sexual assault kits that have lingered for years waiting to be analyzed.

“The goal here is justice for the victim and accuracy in terms of the legal process for everyone involved,” said Dembowski.

Dembowski said that about 15 percent of the sheriff’s office cases have been tested by the crime lab.

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