CLEVELAND -- The ongoing testing of backlogged rape kits through the Ohio Attorney General's Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative has been yielding rapid results for Cuyahoga County prosecutors.
So far DNA results have led to 50 indictments connected to unsolved rape cases in Cuyahoga County, more than any other Ohio jurisdiction.
The pace at which indictments have been returned has also accelerated with Cuyahoga County prosecutors currently cracking two to three unsolved rape cases per week.
Attorney General Mike DeWine attributes the rapid results to new technology and a better streamlined system in which rape kits are now being tested and processed within 20 days, versus just two years ago when the process averaged 125 days.
"We're just delighted with the results," said DeWine in a phone interview Tuesday. "I made a pledge I was going to clean up this backlog and I'm proud of it in spite of the fact that volume has doubled."
DeWine says he was just made aware last week state BCI labs will soon be receiving additional untested rape kits from the Cleveland Police Department.
Initially DeWine had projected testing 4,000 kits statewide, however new projections show Cleveland alone will likely be sending 4,000 old untested rape kits.
"I think what we're seeing happening is a shift in how we're beginning to talk about sexual assault, and the effects of that, and I think that the Attorney General's directive mirrors that to some extent," said Imani Capri, a former victim of sexual assault who is now an advocate for change.
"I think it (SAK) is an excellent move towards really sending a message about the seriousness of rape and sexual assault crimes," said Capri. "I think every person who has been victimized by sexual assault deserves justice...no matter how long it takes."
However with only four full-time scientists working exclusively on SAK testing, DeWine admits more money and resources are needed.
DeWine is scheduled to meet with BCI staff in London Wednesday morning to finalize some dramatic steps he believes are necessary to handle the increasing volume and processing of untested kits statewide.