Cleveland leads the way in solving rape cases

10:47 PM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Nearly two years after the Ohio Attorney General's office launched a statewide DNA testing program for rape kits called the Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative or SAK, rapid results are pouring in all over the state with Cleveland leading the way.

The Cleveland Police Department has sent more than 1400 rape kits to the state's BCI labs for testing, more than any other law enforcement agency in the state.

The testing of these kits has led to 35 indictments for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office, more than any other Ohio jurisdiction.  

 "We're going to get a lot of serial rapists off the street," explained Rick Bell, chief of the criminal investigations division for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.  "If you go after these guys, the worst of the worst, we can get these offenders off the street and make our streets safer."  

One of the more recent DNA hits to come back from BCI cracked open a 20 year old cold case involving 45 year-old John Houser, who allegedly raped a young teenage girl in 1993.  He was indicted last Thursday July 11th,  just 3 days before his case would have been thrown out for exceeding the 20 year statute of limitations.  

"We're under the gun because a lot of these cases are due's been 20 years," said Bell.  "We get about two cases per day from BCI and what we've found is that we're indicting about 2-3 per week."  

Sondra Miller with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center believes more resources are needed all around to keep this momentum going.  

"Survivors of sexual assault are looking for justice in any form, and one form of justice is prosecuting the perpetrator, and some of them have had to wait a very long time to see that happen," said Miller.  "We're looking at a floodgate of survivors who are going to be needing services in the next few years and the resources are not keeping up with that need."  

 A need prosecutors hope will dwindle as more serial rapists are placed behind bars.  

"If they're out there and they do something wrong, we'll be there to snatch them up and prosecute them," said Bell.  

Statewide more than 3100 untested rape kits have been sent to BCI labs from 91 law enforcement agencies.


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