Ex-Prosecutor Urges Focus On A Few Selected “Rape Kits” For DNA Testing


The problem of DNA evidence in “rape kits” going untested is overblown, contends former prosecutor Wendy Murphy in Women’s eNews. As many as 90 percent of the kits contain evidence that is irrelevant, Murphy says. Eighty-five percent of victims know their attackers and the defense is focused on consent, not whether the act occurred. In such cases, DNA tells us nothing about the issue in dispute.

Human Rights Watch found that 12,000 kits in California went untested for years. Murphy says percent of those cases involve victims and perpetrators who know each other. That means only about 1,200 kits should even be considered for testing. Of those, there’s a good chance a majority will be rejected for testing because studies have long shown that many rapists do not ejaculate. If we tested only the small minority of cases where DNA might actually help elucidate the truth–or where the offender is unknown–we’d have a much smaller backlog of kits stacked up. This targeted use of resources would, in turn, free up funds for expedited processing in the stranger rape cases where DNA is critically important, says Murphy.


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