Latest arrest may be tip of the iceberg in backlogged rape kit testing

FILE -- There are 1,700 backlogged rape kits in Oregon that have been stored away for decades. (KATU File Photo)

Police arrested a 66-year-old man this week, accusing him of a 1996 rape.

Jihad Moore is the second arrest that is credited to decades-old rape kits finally getting tested, and police think it’s the tip of the iceberg. There are 1,700 backlogged rape kits that have been stored away for decades.

Police arrested Moore on Tuesday. A grand jury indicted him Wednesday on two counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree sodomy.

Some advocates who pushed for the testing hope it’s finished by the end of the year. Police say that’s possible.

But bringing a suspect to justice not only takes testing those rape kits, it also takes contacting victims who may not want to relieve the horror they survived decades ago.

“It’s different for every survivor – what brings them peace and what brings them justice,” said Danielle Tudor, a rape survivor who pushed for the backlog of rape kits to be tested. “I think it’s interesting that the offenders’ DNA has been in the national database, but it wasn’t because of a rape kit. It was because of other crimes. So I think that really helps, I think, people understand what the reality has been for rape kits and how they have been disregarded in the past.”

In mid-February, Portland police announced that 41-year-old Jose Rosales was the first person convicted because of the rape kit backlog test program. Rosales pleaded no contest to two counts of sex abuse in a 2006 attack.

“People are realizing that why would we not give just as many resources to a sexual assault victim as you would a bank robbery,” said Detective Molly Daul, with the Portland Police Bureau’s sexual assault cold case unit.

Advocates who push for testing the backlog of rape kits say all those tests may be completed later this year.

“We’re reaching the finish line, actually having a tracking system that works statewide,” said Tudor. “Once we achieve that – and we’re on the road to that – we will have done all the six pillars of what the Joyful Heart Foundation recommends for rape kit reform. So I we’re in a very good place in Oregon.”

Investigators say the rape kit testing also confirms that rapists are often repeat offenders who often travel state to state.

Advocates say there are about 75,000 rape kits still untested by law enforcement agencies across the country and some states aren’t willing to fund testing those backlogged cases.

It’s not too late to get help if you are the victim of sexual assault. To find out your options or just to talk about what happened, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

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