Few rape kits from Yakima sent to state crime lab

Few rape kits from Yakima sent to state crime lab »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Dozens of rape cases a year here in Yakima don't get analyzed in the state crime lab. Despite processing several rape kits, YPD only sends a small portion to the lab.

It's Kim Foley's job to help victims of rape at Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health. The facility handles more than a couple hundred of these cases a year. Up to 80% of those are children.

"They go through a lot emotionally, physically, financially," said Kim Foley.

The work to solve these cases isn't easy. Police need help from doctors to collect evidence in rape kits.

"Our biggest enemy is time,” said Foley. “Getting to the hospital right away and getting those kits done where there's the maximum, the window is open for the best chances of collecting evidence."

84 rapes have been reported to YPD so far this year. Police have processed 26 rape kits this year, but sent only seven to the crime lab.

Nine cases lead to arrests and prosecutions based on kit evidence and witnesses who came forward.

Last year, police processed 44 rape kits on 53 reported rapes. Six kits went to the lab. Those results lead to two arrests.

Police said sometimes they can't collect enough evidence to send to the lab.

"Say for example a kit was performed but there wasn't anything collected that would be considered DNA, it's not going to be valuable to send it to the lab," said Yakima police Lieutenant Nolan Wentz.

Kim said patients can get frustrated if they don't think their cases are going anywhere.

"We might help them figure out how to voice their concerns within the system and sometimes the reality of it is, there wasn't enough evidence," said Foley.

But, police said a lot of the victims don't cooperate.

"It appears they don't want to be involved at all," said Wentz.

Investigators said the successful prosecutions depend almost exclusively on the victims and their willingness to come forward. It’s one way these cases can be solved faster.

Besides rape kit analysis, YPD also utilizes witnesses and surveillance video to solve rape cases.