Assault Cases Seen as Priorities

Demonstrations by “Anonymous” notwithstanding, law enforcement agencies in East Ohio take sexual assault seriously. Investigations are pursued vigorously, not placed on shelves to gather dust.

That may not be the case in some areas of Ohio, to judge by an initiative from state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

Among the most important actions DeWine has taken since he became Ohio’s top law enforcement officer in 2011 was to expedite evidence processing at the state crime laboratory. He asked local police and sheriff’s departments to check their records for any “rape kits” that had not been tested during sexual assault investigations. The kits contain physical evidence.

Since DeWine made the offer, the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation has received for testing 2,430 rape kits from 52 law enforcement agencies. Some of them may be from cases dating back years.

It is not surprising that the bulk of the untested rape kits came from big cities.

What ought to interest local residents is how many came from law enforcement agencies in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties: none.

East Ohio law enforcement officials told our reporter that, even if processing delays were expected, evidence in sexual assaults was sent to the BCI expeditiously.

Not all allegations of sexual assault result in convictions. Some may not even produce enough evidence to justify arrests. But here in East Ohio, police and sheriff’s departments seem to view such investigations as priorities – and that is as it should be.