What comes next: SAPD's rape kit backlog completed

In February of this year the San Antonio Police Department said they had 1,499 untested rape kits. Now, that number sits at zero.

In February of this year the San Antonio Police Department said they had 1,499 untested rape kits. Now, that number sits at zero.

SAPD was able to submit all of their kits by the end of February. But that does not mean this problem is anywhere near solved.

How kits are tested

Those kits were then sent to the Bexar County Crime Lab where they were processed.

"From the crime lab's perspective we do not have a rape kit backlog and a rape kit problem here," Timothy C. Fallon, the Director of the Bexar County Crime Lab said.

Fallon explained that once a rape kit is submitted it can take four months to fully process a kit that has DNA evidence. The crime lab then turns over their results to the law enforcement agency.

The Bexar County Crime Lab follows procedures set by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Fallon said that kits from before 2011 are sent to the state to be tested but that testing procedures are so sensitive that old kits frequently end up getting results.

How victims can get help

"The reality is that this crime is increasing or the reporting of this crime or people seeking help in this community is increasing every single year," Miriam Elizondo said, the Co-Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center.

You can ask for a sexual assault kit at any hospital with an emergency room but there are only around 20 nurses in our entire city trained in the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program.

Shelley Botello runs the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, SANE, program at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital. They specialize in these exams and may even go to court to explain the findings.

SANE nurses perform exams on both sexual assault victims and suspects. She said that some nurses are hesitant when it comes to the kits.

"They fear having to do these examinations," Botello said. "They fear they may have to get called to court and not know what to say or do or potentially contaminate a kit."

Botello said the process to become a SANE nurse can take up to six months of additional training and that the SANE nurses in San Antonio serve the South Texas community stretch as far west as Laredo or Del Rio. She commended the law enforcement agencies on their commitment to bring victims to San Antonio to get tested.

What comes next

"The next step is that I would love to see more patients coming forward into a victim safe environment that we can embrace them and give them the tools they need to walk through the process.

"Just be supportive and informative," Elizondo said.

She stressed the the Rape Crisis Center does not want to expand, but bring light to the issue of rape in our community. She also encouraged people to get information about the center's services so that they can be of help if the situation ever happened to a loved one.

The Bexar County District Attorney's office said they are are looking at the number of cases filed since the backlog has been completed but can't say just yet how many, if any charges would be filed.

We will report on those cases as they come to light.

Resources:

Rape Crisis Center

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