INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A state-mandated audit of sexual assault kits statewide is the first of its kind, according to a state legislator.
State Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, joined by police, prosecutors and advocates, released the findings of the audit on Friday. A bill passed by legislators mandated Indiana State Police to complete the audit by December 1.
"We’re in historic ground, we’ve not done this before to my knowledge," Crider said.
Indiana State Police sent a packet of information to counties in July, asking them to report their sexual assault kit numbers by late October. The numbers came from kits waiting on processing at hospitals and from those sitting in evidence rooms at law enforcement agencies.
All but one county reported numbers as part of the audit. It found 5,400 sexual assault kits in law enforcement custody statewide. Of those, 47 percent are untested, comprising a total of 2,560 kits.
That number does not include kits which were identified as no-crime or false report, or around 400 cases which are "Jane Doe," meaning victims did not press charges but could change their minds within one year.
"We knew anecdotally that kits were out there," said Tracey Horth Krueger, CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault, or ICESA. "These represent people, and people who’ve been victimized in the most horrific way."
Horth Krueger said she's glad to see this issue tackled, especially in the current national climate.
"It’s incredible timing, that in the climate we’re living in right now that Indiana is taking this step," Horth Krueger said.
The numbers still leave questions, though.
Officials said they do not know why the 2,560 kits are untested and will have to go case-by-case to determine if they are eligible to be sent to the lab.
In Marion County, the audit notes its number, 256 untested kits, is an average, based on 2015 calculations only.
Other notable counties in central Indiana include Delaware County, where 215 kits are untested, Madison County, where 197 kits are untested but numbers are not complete, and Monroe County, where 76 kits are untested.
The audit also included recommendations to improve the system statewide. Authors suggested adding resources, particularly in more rural counties, including Sexual Assault Response Teams and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
It also suggests law enforcement "should consider implementing case management processes in which an independent person...and not the assigned investigators review all investigations to determine when a case should be closed or continued..."
In January 2018, the state will begin submitting DNA to a national database for all people arrested on felony charges. Previously, the state only submitted convicted felons to the database. Crider said the change means it is even more vital to determine if untested sexual assault kits could be processed.
"Without question, when you look at the national statistics, the more of these kits that you get processed and into the system, the more matches will be made," Crider said.
There is no timeline for the analysis of untested kits. Crider said he would look for grant money to help with next steps, and planned to introduce a new bill in the upcoming legislative session.