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Maricopa County Gets Grant To Analyze Untested Rape Kits

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will get $1.9 million to examine previously untested rape kits. The grant comes from money seized from criminal enterprises.

The money will be used to test 2,300 rape kits from Maricopa County. These kits were chosen because the grant is for cases where police don’t know who the perpetrator is and investigators have biological evidence that can be compared to DNA databases.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said a preliminary match isn’t enough for a prosecution.

“The database will give us an initial indication. But then we will go get another sample from the suspect and confirm it with the sex assault kit sample.”

Montgomery said there isn’t any limit on how far back kits will be tested. The $38 million New York-based 2015 Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program is expected to allow labs to test more than 70,000 kits.

Some of the award money will be used to create a protocol.

“A consistent approach to each of the untested sex assault kits. So that if we do get a match and we go on to prosecute, we can state to a court and then to a jury we followed a specific process ... and the evidence can be fairly relied on,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery doesn't know how many untested rape kits exist in the county. He said in some cases the suspect is known, but the legal question is whether the sex was consensual. Those cases didn’t qualify for testing under the grant.

Alexandra Olgin was a Senior Field Correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2016.