Virginia AG Herring announces $2 million grant to test backlogged rape kits, enhance sexual violence response

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Department of Forensic Science will receive a $2 million federal grant that will allow them to test remaining rape kits and enhance the state’s system for handling sexual assaults — from investigation to support services.

The grant was announced Wednesday by the DFS and Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

“When I found out we had 2,000 kits sitting on the shelves around Virginia, I made it my mission to clear out that backlog and help survivors seek justice and closure,” said Attorney General Mark R. Herring. “This new investment is going to let us take those efforts to the next level, completely eliminating Virginia’s backlog of untested kits once and for all and making needed upgrades throughout our response to sexual violence. Survivors are going to be met with a more informed and compassionate response, cases against perpetrators will be stronger, and every survivor will know that their Commonwealth stands with them as they seek justice and healing from these brutal crimes.”

The funds come from the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and will support the next phase of the OAG and DFS’ ongoing PERK kit project.

Attorney General Herring and DFS previously secured a $1.4 million grant for an ongoing project to test more than 2,000 untested Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) that law enforcement agencies had not submitted to DFS for testing as of June 30, 2014.

A new change in state law will ensure that kits collected on or afterJuly 1, 2016 are properly submitted to DFS for analysis. The new grant provides funding for the analysis of any untested kits that were collected in the gap between 2014 and the time the new law went into effect.

“This grant complements the critical work of the PERK Work Group, which was created by Governor McAuliffe to address the issue of untested kits that had not been submitted for analysis,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.  “As Chair of the Work Group, we were committed to developing a comprehensive procedure for the handling of kits that would assure the victims of these heinous crimes that their PERKs would be timely submitted for analysis.  DFS has always stood ready to test these kits, and the legislation from the Work Group mandates the submission of PERKs to DFS for analysis.  This grant will allow DFS to implement a PERK tracking system that will enable the tracking of each PERK to ensure compliance with the requirements from the legislation.  I commend DFS and Attorney General Herring for their continued collaboration, which will help in bringing closure to victims of rape by assisting in the identification of the perpetrators.”