Rape evidence destruction, the most common evidence loss discovered in a Denver Post investigation, “represents a hidden crucible for countless sex-assault victims in the U.S,” the paper says. Behind 5,515 rape evidence kits destroyed or lost by authorities nationwide in the past decade are thousands of women who endured the scraping of fingernails and the swabbing of their most private parts, only to be cheated of justice and, often, true healing. And behind those evidence purges are thousands of offenders who escaped prosecution. The Post is exploring lost evidence in a series entitled “Trashing the Truth.”
The scope of the lost rape specimens and their impacts may never be known because most state governments don’t require that police, hospitals and other public agencies report the evidence they toss, the paper says. The problem flows from widespread ignorance, rape-crisis experts say, about the kits’ forensic value. While most of the rape evidence purges were carried out by police agencies, untold numbers of kits also have been discarded by hospitals.