Tracking sexual assault kits: New system keeps 1,500+ survivors informed

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Survivors of sexual assault are taking control of their recovery in a new way, through the ability to track their kits online in real time.

Since the Utah Department of Public Safety launched the Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System last June, experts said 1,598 victims have used the online tool.

Danielle Tennant is one of those victims, recovering from an assault that occurred last August. She said the tracking system was immediately offered to her after her exam.

But for decades, that option wasn’t available for thousands of sexual assault survivors. It wasn’t until 2016 when advocates with the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) began tackling the backlog of 4,331 rape kits that had been left untested.

SAKI Site Coordinator Krystal Hazlett said that in the last three years, they’ve been able to test 3,304 kits, upload 1,548 DNA profiles to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and identified 628 suspects in CODIS.

Tennant said she’s thankful the resources and services are improving for sexual assault survivors in the state.

“I can’t even imagine what the victims went through before the tracking system came out. I would just feel lost…like, ‘What’s going on? Can somebody inform me?'” she said. “You can’t even start the recovery process until these things are clarified. Even to this day, there are still kits waiting on the backlog. My kit has been processing for months.”

Although she knows who her assaulter is and has been working with a detective, Tennant said she can’t move forward with her case until the kit is tested.

“It’s a little frustrating to keep waiting and know that I’m going to be waiting quite a while longer. But it’s nice to have the information of where we’re at in the process,” she said.

The Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System is only available to victims of recent cases. For backlogged kits, survivors can inquire about its current status by calling the SAKI advocate at 801-893-1145.

Domestic Violence: Support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is available 24/7: 1-800-897-LINK (5465). If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

Sexual Assault: If you or someone you know needs help, call the Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1-888-421-1100. 


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