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City Attorney Calls For San Diego To Tackle Backlog Of Untested Rape Kits

Vials of evidence in a sexual assault case are labeled and sorted at the Houston Forensic Science Center, April 2, 2015.
Associated Press
Vials of evidence in a sexual assault case are labeled and sorted at the Houston Forensic Science Center, April 2, 2015.

The total of untested rape kits held by the city of San Diego is approaching 2,900, and each one should be examined, City Attorney Mara Elliott said Tuesday.

San Diego was among the California cities identified in a 2014 state audit as having a large backlog of untested sexual assault kits, which contain hair, saliva, blood and possibly semen collected from victims.

RELATED: Why Rape Kits Go Untested In San Diego

Elliott said the number of untested kits has grown to 2,873.

"When rape victims submit to an ordeal that can take up to four hours, the evidence they provide should be fully analyzed and shared for maximum value in solving crimes and preventing future crimes," Elliott said. "Other cities test every kit. San Diego should test every kit."

Elliott also called for the results of testing to be shared with other jurisdictions.

Police officials contend that it is not necessary to test every kit, since evidence developed in an investigation could make the results irrelevant. They also say the federal rules can limit the evidence that can be entered in databases.

In response, the city attorney said that while rape-kit analysis may not always advance an individual investigation, analyses may yield DNA matches that can benefit other investigations and resolve cold cases.

RELATED: Roundtable: Untested Rape Kits, Zoo’s Big Bank Account, Opioids In San Diego’s Suburbs

DNA evidence in active cases can be shared by law-enforcement agencies throughout the state through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS.

Elliott issued her call before Wednesday's "Denim Day," which commemorates an Italian Supreme Court ruling that initiated international support for the recognition of sexual violence.