GREENWOOD, Ind. — From the very start, Greenwood Police knew that Kenji Edison was suspected of raping a woman in March of 2019.
It took until last week before Edison was charged.
Sources indicate there were multiple system and employee failures over the last four years that left Edison free while his alleged victim waited for justice.
”That sounds like a failure at multiple levels,” said Beth White, President & CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking.
A Greenwood patrol officer found a woman, bloodied and battered, standing along the side of West Stones Crossing Road on March 4, 2019.
The woman reported she had been raped in the back of an SUV parked near a cemetery on State Road 135.
Through a witness and the woman’s mother investigators were able to track down Edison who claimed the sexual encounter was consensual.
On March 14, 2019, a Greenwood Police detective received the victim’s completed sexual assault test kit.
The detective sought an arrest warrant for Edison 13 days later, a request that was apparently never fulfilled.
The case languished for three years until the detective filed a Probable Cause Affidavit on March 21, 2022.
The rape test kit was finally sent from the GPD Property Room to the Indiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis on June 2, 2022.
Those test results were finally returned to police and forwarded to the Johnson County Prosecutor last October.
”They got the DNA sent to the state crime lab and that takes a little bit of time,” said Prosecutor Lance Hamner who took office the first of the year. ”When we came into office this was one of the cases that had not been filed. We were putting together all the cases that had been sitting here and hadn’t been filed and that was one of them.”
While the filing of charges against Edison indicates that police and prosecutors in Johnson County were determined in the long run to see justice done, it appears human errors and frailties led to delays.
The original detective on the case battled health issues that left him occasionally off the job over the years and eventually led to retirement.
Similarly, it was the departure of a property room manager that led to the replacement who discovered the unprocessed rape test kit from 2019.
Hamner said the deputy prosecutor who was in charge of the Edison case has been replaced.
”Sexual assault cases have been given a high priority by this office and the first thing we did was increase the number of deputy prosecutors who work those kinds of cases from two to three, so essentially a 33% increase in the number of deputy prosecutors who address these type of cases so that no stone is left unturned,” he said.
Indiana State Police reports an average 90-day turnaround for examining rape test kits and ISP expects to hire more staff and upgrade its facilities.
”What we know is that there is a backlog,” said White, who advocates for sexual assault survivors. “There were a couple of bills filed in the General Assembly this year in order to address the backlog and to ask for funding to step in and resolve the backlog. Those bills did not even get a hearing in our General Assembly so it’s disappointing that our legislators didn’t feel that this was enough of an issue that they were not willing to address it.”
White said sexual assault survivors face a traumatic struggle to report their crime and then participate in its investigation and prosecution.
“It is heartbreaking for a survivor who is willing to submit to that kind of exam for the purpose of gathering evidence when nothing is done with that evidence. It is really a heartbreaking thing to say to a victim, ‘We just didn’t even test the kit that was collected.’ It just feels very unfair,” she said. ”When survivors are courageous enough to come forward to report what happened to them, to submit to the medical examination and the collection of the evidence, the least the system can do is to handle that evidence in a timely and respectful way in order to hold perpetrators accountable.”
Edison has posted bond. No trial has been set.