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Hundreds Of Tulsa’s Rape Kits Go Untested

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When a woman is raped in Tulsa, she's asked to go to Hillcrest to be given a sexual assault exam by a specially trained nurse. This is done so that any possible evidence can be collected, like semen, saliva, hairs and fibers. When a woman is raped in Tulsa, she's asked to go to Hillcrest to be given a sexual assault exam by a specially trained nurse. This is done so that any possible evidence can be collected, like semen, saliva, hairs and fibers.
Those kits are sent to the Tulsa police property room to be stored. Those kits are sent to the Tulsa police property room to be stored.
On the kits that are tested, the first step is for the lab to see if there is anything that would contain DNA and that can be done in a few weeks. If there is, testing for DNA can take up to six months for results or faster if it's a rush job. On the kits that are tested, the first step is for the lab to see if there is anything that would contain DNA and that can be done in a few weeks. If there is, testing for DNA can take up to six months for results or faster if it's a rush job.

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The CBS Evening News has been investigating the number of rape kits that go untested in cities across the U.S.  The News On 6 decided to check into Tulsa's rape kits and learned only 25 percent of them are tested. 

But Tulsa Police say that's a good thing.

Police say it would be a waste of taxpayer money and create a huge backlog in the lab if all rape kits were tested. They say the ones that need to be tested, are.

When a woman is raped in Tulsa, she's asked to go to Hillcrest to be given a sexual assault exam by a specially trained nurse. This is done so that any possible evidence can be collected, like semen, saliva, hairs and fibers. 

Those kits are sent to the Tulsa police property room to be stored. Tulsa does about 400 sexual assault exams a year, but only about 100 of those are sent to the lab to be tested.

Kits aren't tested for many reasons -- the victim doesn't want to pursue the case or it was a false report or the suspect pleads guilty or he admits his evidence will be found, but claims the encounter was consensual. In that case, DNA won't prove what police need -- that it was forced.

"Eighty-five percent of our cases, maybe more, are acquaintance based. Now, certainly, if it's a stranger case, physical evidence is very important and we want to get it tested and very quickly and we do," said Sgt. Gary Stansill, TPD.

On the kits that are tested, the first step is for the lab to see if there is anything that would contain DNA and that can be done in a few weeks. If there is, testing for DNA can take up to six months for results or faster if it's a rush job.

"The bottom line is this: if it needs to be tested, it will be tested. The misconception is that kits that are untested result in rapists going free. That's not the case," said Sgt. Stansill.

Rape advocates agree testing only those kits that need it, is the proper thing to do. 

Police urge all victims to get the sexual assault exam because they never know what evidence they'll need and they can't go back and get it later. 

Tulsa Police keep some rape kits for years, even where the suspect is in prison or the statute of limitations has expired, just in case it would need to be tested later. 

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