Unlike criminal trials, which require the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil trials have a much lower bar, requiring only that a plaintiff persuade a judge or jury that it is more likely than not that the events occurred.
“Bringing transparency to the backlog,” New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller said, “is a first step towards fixing this issue, which is critical to survivors and our public safety.”
State Sen. Connie M. Leyva will introduce a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations in cases of rape and other sex crimes to afford survivors of assault a chance at seeking justice.
Following last week’s grant funding announcement to help eliminate backlogs of what are commonly known as “rape kits,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) issued a statement urging the administration to implement the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act.
In cases of rape, the “he said, she said” dilemma has outgrown the realm of legitimate legal query, and has instead come to justify the systemic failure of police and prosecutors nationwide to properly process forensic evidence that could lead to more sexual assault convictions, and also to identifying serial rapists who otherwise remain at large.
A three-month investigation by RH Reality Check has revealed that the agency charged with overseeing this effort has been unable to answer these rudimentary questions, leaving advocates at a loss to explain why so little progress has been made on the backlog even while the Obama administration has identified it as a top priority for sexual justice.
Marylanders will soon know the extent of the rape kit backlog in their state—a first step in trimming the backlog—under a new law signed in April by GOP Gov. Larry Hogan.
Maryland legislators, buoyed by a national campaign and the commitment of federal resources, are considering legislation to eventually clear the backlog of sexual assault forensic kits in the state.
The Ohio house passed a bill Wednesday meant to completely clear a backlog of untested rape kits in law enforcement offices across the state. After the unanimous passage of SB 316, the bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for a signature.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it has committed up to $35 million to fund the clearance of rape kit backlogs across the country, in partnership with the Joyful Heart Foundation’s End the Backlog program.