Rape kit backlog light in central Indiana

State, Marion County labs keep up

INDIANAPOLIS - With cities such as Denver and Detroit facing rape kit backlogs, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney dug into what the situation is in central Indiana.

The Marion County Crime Lab shows a current backlog of 32 rape kits. Numbers obtained by Kenney show the lab has picked up more than 2,000 kits since 2010.

“We have a backlog, but not a backlog problem,” said Michael Medler, director of the Marion County Forensic Services Agency. “We are meeting court dates, and if there’s a problem with having a case rushed, we can do those kinds of things.”

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office told Kenney it is satisfied with the crime lab’s turnaround time. Medler said they store rape kits whether the victim reports the crime or not.

“That evidence is critically important,” said Medler. “So, we want to make sure we secure all evidence for the future. We can keep it pretty much indefinitely from the standpoint of how we can freeze things.”

Kenney also checked with the Indiana State Police Crime Lab and found its current backlog sits at 36.

Paul Misner, biology section supervisor for the Indiana State Police Laboratory, told RTV6 its computer system does not count kits, but does count types of crimes.

In all, 215 rapes, child molestations and other sex crimes have been submitted to the lab so far this year. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, the lab took in a total of 2,941 sex crimes.

“We have four labs around the state with a total of 45 forensic scientists in the biology section, which is less than one unassigned sex crime per analyst,” said Misner.

Misner added that it takes roughly 54 days to process a rape kit and other items of evidence.

“Rush cases are worked out of order and completed sooner,” said Misner.

Misner said the 36 backlogged cases will be processed.

“They simply have not been assigned because they have been submitted recently,” said Misner.

Medler said the Marion County lab’s staff is diligent about picking up rape kits from area hospitals.

“I think this community has done more to be responsive of sexual assault victims than maybe other communities,” said Medler.

Coming up on tonight on The News at 11 on RTV6, Kenney talks to rape victims who say the state of Indiana is failing them.

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