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Mayor Allocates Money to Investigate Untested Rape Kits

Project 333 aims to analyze solvability factors surrounding decades old sexual assault cases

July 11, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry announced the plan for the rape kit back-log which will be known as ‘Project 333.’ Mayor Berry is dedicating $200,000 to the project which would be enough to cover the cost to test approximately 333 untested sexual assault rape kits.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has hired 3 retired detectives beginning on July 13th, to identify, locate, and pursue the 333 untested DNA cases. Kits will be analyzed and categorized based on predetermined criterion into five priority testing levels.

  • Priority One Testing: Any case involving homicide or First Degree Sexual Assaults; any case involving a child under the age of 13; any case where a possible serial sex offender can be identified through MO or other case facts; any case with solvability factors, victim involvement, and not yet adjudicated that is within the statute of limitations for that case; and any case pending trial.
  • Priority Two Testing: Any case with an unknown offender and the case was closed or suspended pending the results of the SAEK, regardless of the age of the victim.
  • Priority Three Testing: Any case where an offender has been identified by the victim, within statute of limitations, where the issue of whether sexual contact occurred is not in contention and DNA is not needed for trial.
  • Priority Four Testing: Any case not pursued through the criminal justice system as per the victim’s choice; any case already adjudicated based on the facts of the case and no DNA was necessary or requested for prosecution; and any case with an expired statute of limitations not meeting previously mentioned criteria.
  • Priority Five Testing: Any case, after investigation, that has been closed as ‘unfounded’ or otherwise determined to be non-factual based on evidence or admission.

While many law enforcement agencies destroy or discard old rape kits, APD keeps all kits. The department currently has approximately 3,600 untested kits, with the oldest kit dating back to 1988. Nationally, it is estimated that there are 400,000 untested sexual assault kits. It is the department’s policy and believes that despite the consequence of having a high volume of untested kits; it is a better practice to preserve the potential forensic evidence in the event prosecution is possible at any future point.