By Marc Kovac
Local law enforcement will be asked to submit sexual-assault kits to state investigators for further review under a new state policy announced by Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The change, approved by a commission appointed by DeWine to study the issue, will cover new assaults and samples taken from older offenses, some dating as far back as the early 1990s.
The hope, DeWine told reporters during a press conference Monday, is that DNA submitted as part of the process will identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“Up until now, quite candidly, a lot of sexual-assault kits simply have not been submitted for testing,” DeWine said. “And many sit today on evidence shelves across the state of Ohio. We need to change this.”
He added, “We want to assure that victims of sexual assault and their cases will not be forgotten. We are determined to bring these rapists to justice.”
Under the new policy, law enforcement will be asked to submit sexual-assault kits to Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation “unless it’s abundantly clear no crime was committed.”
DNA from the evidence, in turn, will be added to state and federal databases to check for matches or to be available for future investigations.
“For example, a woman who has been sexually assaulted,” DeWine said, “we don’t know who did it. We get the sexual-assault kit. We put the DNA in the database. Five years, six years down the road, the assailant gets picked up for another crime. Now you’ve got him. It doesn’t matter how long ago that sexual assault occurred. We can catch him in the future.”
DeWine also said a new unit within BCI will focus on dealing with the increase in kits expected under the new policy. The office expects to test upward of 3,000 kits per year, about double the current number.
“Victims will be able to be assured that we are doing everything as a society to catch their assailant,” DeWine said. “Even if we can’t catch their assailant today, we may be able to catch their assailant five years from now because that rape kit was tested today.”