$6 million will be used to test backlogged rape kits in North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A total of $6 million will be used to test backlogged rape kits.

In a new announcement on Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Stein announced the $2 million increase in funds and a proposed new law that would help solve more than 15,000 untested rape kits.

It's a statewide problem, especially in the Piedmont.

"For every untested kit, we run the potential of a perpetrator re-offending," said Lindy Garnette, the CEO of the YWCA of Greensboro.

It's a scary fact that women across North Carolina are forced to face.

"If you were a sexual assault victim who had gone through a hideous process of a rape kit, and then to find out it was never tested. If it had been, it could have saved another woman from what you went through," she said. "What we hear from folks we work with is that they're not notified if their kit wasn't tested."

In a report released by the North Carolina Department of Justice in 2018, there were 15,160 untested rape kits across the state in 2017.

But it's the numbers in the Piedmont that worry many, like Garnette.

"944 total kits and out of those, well 524 are in the 'other, not tested' category. That's better than half, where we don't know why they weren't tested, but they weren't tested," she said.

Those numbers were reported to the state by the Greensboro Police Department.

It's the third highest number of untested kits in the state and Garnette says it's a wake-up call.

"The raw numbers are very important because they represent real people," she said. "They represent the people who were assaulted."

She says it's already difficult for victims to move forward with the rape kits, but many do so to help other women stay safe.

She believes not testing them could have repercussions.

"Why is that kit sitting on the shelf after a woman has already been sexually assaulted?" she said. "[She's] already been through the whole process and it doesn't help the next victim if it sits on the shelf."

The money from the proposed Survivor Act will be used to hire new forensic scientists for the State Crime Lab in an effort to put enough people on staff to take care of the rape kits submitted.

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