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Keeping Sex Assault Victims in the Loop

For many years, victims of sexual assault in both West Virginia and Ohio may have been unaware that little progress had been made in bringing their assailants to justice because physical evidence — rape kits — was sitting on shelves and not being tested. Both states have made enormous progress in clearing up those backlogs. Procedures have been put in place to keep the outrageous delays from occurring again.

One cannot blame sexual assault victims for not taking state officials’ word for that, of course. In Idaho and, hopefully soon, Ohio, they will not have to do that.

Last year, Buckeye State legislators approved implementation of a tracking system for rape kit testing. A state law enacted in 2015 requires that rape kit evidence must be handed over for testing no more than 30 days after it is determined criminal activity occurred.

Ohio authorities have not said when they will put the tracking system into effect, but they have a head start on it, thanks to Idaho. A system allowing assault victims to use unique numbers assigned to their cases to monitor the testing process online — anonymously — has been developed by that state. The system is being offered free of charge to other states.

That system is to be used in Ohio.

Good for Buckeye State officials for not attempting to reinvent the wheel. Using the Idaho system will save time. The sooner it is put into effect, the better.

West Virginia officials should consider adopting the system, too. Doing so would offer sexual assault victims assurances that their cases have not been filed and forgotten.

If legislative action is necessary to make that happen, lawmakers should provide it.

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