BCA completes testing on all sexual assault kits from 2015 inventory

Published 5:24 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

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By Nina Moini

Nearly eight years after the state asked local law enforcement agencies to send over all untested sexual assault kits, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Thursday those tests have been completed. 

In 2015, a national controversy over the number of untested rape kits prompted Minnesota legislators to pass a law that required all police departments and sheriffs’ offices to count the number of untested kits and explain why they were there.

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The probe found untested sexual assault kits from offenses dating back to the 1990s. Agencies cited reasons like insufficient evidence, conflicting statements, and dismissed charges. 

The BCA said it received 2,366 sexual assault kits from local law enforcement agencies that were cleared for testing from the 2015 inventory. The Duluth Police Department, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and St. Cloud Police Department had among the biggest backlogs at the time.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said federal funding made it possible to start testing the kits in 2019.

State lawmakers this year considered passing a law that would require a 90-day turnaround time for sexual assault kits but opted to make it a goal the BCA “must strive” to meet.

Evans said on Thursday the BCA expects to reach a 90-day turnaround time for such kits this fall, but he said he believes most victim survivors could reasonably see results in around 30 days thanks to additional funding that came from the latest legislative session.

“We certainly believe here at the BCA that with adequate funding a 30-day turnaround time would be a really good place to be in terms of providing answers that aid the entire investigative process so that is certainly our goal as well,” Evans said.

Evans said the BCA also started a sexual assault kit tracking program one year ago that would track a kit from the time it leaves the BCA until the time it goes through testing. Evans said victim survivors, hospitals, prosecutors and law enforcement can all stay informed on the status of a kit using the software.

“They have a secure login that is specific to their case so that we protect their privacy, and only the right people have access to that system,” Evans said.

The BCA has recently added a second robot that can process 80-90 samples at a time, Evans said.

The BCA said 357 of the 2,366 tested kits had DNA profiles that matched convicted offenders in the state’s database, and around 130 individuals who had not been previously identified in any cases.

The Minneapolis Police Department also reported an extra 1,700 untested kits in 2019.

Evans said the BCA has gotten through 1,339 of those and the remaining ones will be completed by early next year.