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Clearing the Rape Kit Backlog: Will DNA Evidence Be Enough to Get Justice for Victims?

Legislation to clear the more than 15,000 untested rape kits in North Carolina has support on both sides. But some advocates have concerns if the kits alone will be enough to get justice for rape survivors.
Credit: WFMY
NC sexual assault kit

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It's a small white box, but it carries a lot of weight - a rape kit. 

15,000 of those small white boxes remain untested in North Carolina. 

Legislation to clear the backlog has support on both sides, and would provide $6 million in funding to test the kits. 

RELATED: Dear, Ambra: Sex Abuse Survivor Gives Hope As Massive Rape Kit Backlog Remains

But some advocates say there are still many factors to consider, such as how effective the DNA evidence will be in some of these kits. 

"I hate when they use the term he-said, she-said, but when you have differing opinions, and you didn't have the science," said Rep. Mary Belk. "The science is now caught up." 

According to the Attorney General, the state has already tested 800 kits. About 10 percent of those kits have given new life to cold cases, and some have been solved. 

The bill also calls for review teams consisting of sexual assault nurse examiners, prosecutors, victim advocacy groups and others to conduct case reviews to determine which assaults get testing priority. 

Gheisha-Ly Rosario Diaz with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center says the hope is that advocate groups are able to be part of case review process. 

"If it's been a substantial amount of time - however we end up defining substantial amount of time - since this rape kit was collected, should we be reaching out to these victims yet again to make sure they are still consenting for the criminal justice system to be involved," said Diaz. 

For now, the bill sits in the General Assembly, as the kits sit quietly, too. 

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