Maricopa County Attorney’s Office receives $1.1M rape kit testing grant

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office was recently awarded a grant of more than $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, through its Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program, for ongoing initiatives to test sexual assault kits.

“This additional funding will help to not only hold offenders accountable for their crimes, but also prevent offenders from causing additional harm to the community,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery in a prepared statement.

“This continued investment shows our commitment to seeking justice for the victims of these types of violent crimes.”

MCAO will use the funding for continued analysis of previously untested sexual assault evidence kits, as well as investigation and prosecution efforts of cases involving the kits, according to a press release.

The new funding will add six positions dedicated to ongoing initiatives including a detective and analyst, plus an additional advocate and support staff, the release states.

Grant funding has allowed almost 2,700 sexual assault kits to be sent for testing. Matches found from those tests led to six new indictments since 2016.

The testing of sexual assault kits can directly lead to criminal investigations and prosecution by identifying previously unknown suspects or corroborating the identity of individuals previously suspected in these offenses.

In cases involving a suspect, who has not yet been identified, biological evidence from a sexual assault kit can be analyzed and compared to offender profiles in DNA databases such as the national Combined DNA Index System to help identify the suspect.

In cases involving known alleged assailants, evidence from sexual assault kits can also be used to identify serial offenders.

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