By Joel Rubin
Dozens of police departments throughout Los Angeles County routinely have not tested DNA evidence collected in rape and sexual assault cases, and are unable to accurately account for thousands of pieces of evidence that could potentially help solve crimes, according to a report to be released today.
The county’s two behemoth law enforcement agencies — the Los Angeles Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department — have come under harsh criticism in recent months for not testing about 10,000 samples of semen, saliva and other genetic material gathered from victims’ bodies after alleged attacks and for letting legal time limits pass on hundreds of cases. The report, produced by the independent group Human Rights Watch, found that the other 47 police agencies in the county are struggling with the same problems.
Rape victims “have a right to expect police to do all they can to thoroughly investigate their case, but in L.A. [County] they often feel betrayed to learn that their rape kits are never even tested,” said Sarah Tofte, the report’s author. “And in some cases, failure to test means that a rapist who could have been arrested will remain free.”
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