Tags: mariska hargitay | rape | test | kits | 35m

Mariska Hargitay: Rape Test Kits Backlog Gets $35M to Move Forward

By    |   Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 05:17 PM

"Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay and New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Wednesday announced $35 million in funds being made available to test thousands of rape kits around the country.

Hargitay took part in the press event as founder and president of The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The $35 million will come from the DA’s office, which is allocating the funding to “analyze untested rape kits, audit the scope of jurisdictions’ backlogs, create data- and information-sharing systems, and ensure jurisdictions adhere to best practices for the testing and use of rape kit evidence,” a DA news release said.

"To me, the rape kit backlog is one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how we regard these crimes in our society. Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: You matter. What happened to you matters. Your cases matter,” Hargitay said in comments posted on The Joyful Heart Foundation’s website. “Not testing kits sends the opposite message. That’s why I am so filled with gratitude for the commitment that has been announced today. This is what progress looks like."

Vance echoed her sentiments: “To have hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested is unacceptable. Rape victims nationwide deserve to know that the invasive examination they underwent had a purpose, and the resulting kit was not left to gather dust on a forgotten shelf,” the DA’s press release said.

The evidence from the untested kits also may help solve crimes in New York and throughout the nation, Vance added.

The grants will be made from $8.8 billion Vance’s office collected from BNP Paribas to settle a case that the firm helped "rogue nations" do their banking in New York, the New Daily News said.

It’s unclear how many untested rape kits there are, but Vance’s press release said counts from cities are coming in: Memphis, Tennessee, had more than 12,000; Cleveland, Ohio, almost 4,000; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, more than 3,700.

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"Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay and New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Wednesday announced $35 million in funds being made available to test thousands of rape kits around the country.
mariska hargitay, rape, test, kits, 35m
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2014-17-13
Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 05:17 PM
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