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Phoenix police to begin testing all rape kits

Posted at 12:25 PM, Jul 01, 2016

Phoenix police will begin testing all rape kits immediately, reversing a former practice of only processing kits in specific circumstances.

Governor Doug Ducey praised the announcement Friday. 

“This is encouraging news,” said the Governor's spokesman Daniel Scarpinato. “The governor is pleased to see law enforcement stepping up to bring justice to victims of sexual assault.”

Phoenix Police said they will begin testing all rape kits Friday as well as clearing a backlog of  1700 untested kits sitting in evidence.  

ABC15 first exposed the massive rape kit backlog in Phoenix four years ago. Our 2012 investigation uncovered Phoenix had more than 1,500 untested kits since 2001.

At the time, Phoenix police officials said they didn’t test kits in cases where there was a question of consent. Kits were tested if the offender was unknown to the victim.

It’s a practice that was strongly criticized by victims and advocacy groups.

They point to research that shows the majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, committed by someone the victim knows.

They says it raises the question: If those kits aren’t tested, does law enforcement miss the chance to link a suspect to other crimes, or find out if a suspect has been accused by other women in the past?

Here’s how Phoenix police responded in 2012.

“It’s really because a matter of consent,” said Phoenix Police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump. “The kit doesn’t help us solve that.”

Crump, who has since retired, continued, “We’re going to continue to maintain what it is that we’re doing.”

In the months after ABC15's investigation, Phoenix went back and tested 200 additional kits. The new testing resulted in at least one arrest.

Phoenix’s reversal comes after a wave of other departments across the country began clearing their rape kit backlogs in recent years. It also came after Governor Ducey formed a special panel earlier this year to examine the number of untested kits in the state.

Watch ABC15's original investigation into untested rape kits below.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.