Roanoke lab not seeing problem of rape kits left untested - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke lab not seeing problem of rape kits left untested

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ROANOKE -

Nicole Harold works at the Western Laboratory which is one of the four state labs across Virginia. The labs work with local law enforcement to process evidences for crimes like rape.

"Any PERK that is submitted to our laboratory we will work," says Nicole Harold, DFS Western Lab.

A PERK is also known as a rape kit that consists of swabs and smears of evidence taken from the victim. A problem that's happened nationwide is some of these kits were used but never tested and put away because of budget cuts.

Here in the Commonwealth Forensic Labs are seeing a backlog as well. We checked with Virginia's Department of Forensic Science and they tell us that the Commonwealth has seen a thousand untested cases including rape in 2010. But so far this year, there's only a backlog of 111 sexual assault cases.

Some of the reasons for improvements are more employees and tools.

"In the past four years we switched to new instrumentation to work cases more quickly," says Harold.

We found out that at the Western Laboratory so far they have completed analyzing 96 sexual assault cases. The backlog is 23 cases and expected to be assigned quickly.

The average time for a case in backlog is about two to three months however certain cases will get tested sooner.

"In terms of sexual assault cases, we prioritize cases involving children typically we also prioritize cases involving strangers and higher levels of violence," says Harold.

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