Florida addresses untested rape kits with new law

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new law passed in July now requires that all sexual assault kits in the state of Florida to be processed in the laboratory within 120 days.

Over 13,000 samples throughout the state and more than 1,000 samples in Southwest Florida remained untested, according to a state Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report published earlier this year.

However, the new law now makes investigators process sexual assault kits much quicker.

Eileen Wesley, executive director of Project Help, a Naples-based organization providing counseling to crime victims, said the results are incredible.

“It kind of makes me happy to see what they’re working towards and they’re actually getting hits on these kits,” Wesley said. “I think that’s great.”

During the first four months of the new law, 1,814 kits have been tested and 406 of those matched up with someone already in the database.

“It’s wonderful,” Wesley said. “It’s really hopeful for me that these 406 hits… if one of these 406 does it again, he’s not going to get away with it.”

Wesley also believes this new law will help more victims come forward.

“This is showing them that the state of Florida is seeing an issue and they’re going to address it,” Wesley said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is aiming to process 8,900 rape kits by June 2019.

It is unclear how many of the tested kits were from Southwest Florida.

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