Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that his office, through the SAFE Kit Initiative, reached an important milestone in the effort to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Missouri - since late December of 2019, over 1,000 untested sexual assault kits from across the state have been gathered and sent to a private lab to be tested.
“Since being sworn in as Attorney General, clearing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits has remained one of my top priorities. Judge Williams and her team worked tirelessly in 2019 to inventory every backlogged untested sexual assault kit in the state, and now they're working diligently and expeditiously to get those kits sent to the lab," said Attorney General Schmitt. "Although this is major progress, there is still a lot to be done. My office will continue to work to obtain justice on behalf of victims and ensure this backlog never happens again."
“This is a milestone to celebrate. Although we have more work to do and remaining kits to test, today affirms that survivors of sexual assault matter and that Missouri is striving to do better so that other individuals do not have to wait years for their kits to be tested," said Jennifer Carter Dochler, MCADSV Public Policy Director.
Since the first shipping event, held at the Springfield Police Department in December of 2019, 1,021 untested sexual assault kits that were identified in the SAFE Kit Initiative inventory have been shipped to the private lab in Virginia to be tested.
Shipping events have been held in O’Fallon, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, and Joplin, as well as the Camden County Sheriff's Office, the Cass County Sheriff's Office, the New Madrid County Sheriff's Office, and the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office.
Regional shipping events will continue in the future as the Attorney General's Office continues to work to gather and ship backlogged untested sexual assault kits to the lab for testing.
The lab in Virginia has been deemed an essential business, and Marshall University, which conducts technical review of the lab results, are also continuing to work at normal pace. No slowdown in testing is expected, and the previous timeline should hold.
The SAFE Kits Initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits in the backlog, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and potentially eventual prosecution.