The Backlog:


Law enforcement agencies across Cuyahoga County, including the Cleveland Police Department, submitted a total of 4,845 untested sexual assault kits from 1993 through 2009 for testing in accordance with Ohio's Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative. 4,374 of those kits were submitted by the Cleveland Police Department.

As of December 2015, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has completed testing on 4,296 of Cuyahoga County's submitted kits, yielding 2,583 matches in the national DNA database and resulting in 1,384 completed investigations. To date, 430 defendants have been indicted, and 333 potential serial offenders have been identified. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office anticipates indicting 1,000 cases over the next few years—a third of them serial rapists—as a result of clearing the backlog.

In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance announced the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office was awarded $1,993,741 in funding to address its backlog through testing kits, investigating and prosecuting cases and re-engaging survivors.

In addition to the backlogged rape kits, the Department also discovered 67 cartons with evidence that had been sent for testing in the mid-2000s. Officials are working to determine whether the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) fully tested all of that evidence before returning it to Cleveland.

Starting in 2010, the city implemented a "test everything" approach regardless of the outcome of the original investigation. The county hired temporary employees to help with the procees of sending all untested evidence to BCI.

The Prosecutor's Office formed a DNA Cold Case Task Force to handle investigation of the cases resulting from testing. The Task Force, which includes detectives, prosecutors, county and state investigators and advocates, is also conducting victim notifications when there is a DNA match. 

For more information on reforms happening in Ohio, click here

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