Testing of thousands of rape evidence kits that sat ignored for years in Memphis has resulted in the identification of 16 people suspected of raping multiple victims, the Associated Press reports. Memphis, Houston, Cleveland and Detroit are among cities working to reduce a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits, with hopes that evidence collected could lead to prosecution of sexual assault cases. Rape victims have sued Memphis, alleging that the failure to test 12,000 kits has allowed too many rapists to escape prosecution.
The Memphis backlog dates to the 1970s. After it was disclosed in 2013, Mayor A C Wharton Jr. formed a task force charged with eliminating it. Police began using test results to start investigations into finding victims and suspects. This week, police Lt. Cody Wilkerson reported that 5,386 kits have been sent to labs for testing and that 58 cases have been sent to prosecutors for indictment. He said 25 alleged rapists have been identified, including 16 believed to have assaulted multiple people.