Lendon Ebbels joins the Joyful Heart Foundation as a recent graduate of McGill University, where she obtained her BA in Sociology. There, she volunteered extensively with its student-run sexual assault center, providing support and information to survivors and their allies and promoting an awareness of issues and myths surrounding sexual assault in the community as a workshop facilitator, media watch coordinator, and external representative. Lendon held two internships with Human Rights Watch, where she lent her support to efforts to end the rape kit backlog and other US-based advocacy goals.
Posts by Lendon
As officials in Detroit, Michigan are beginning to test rape kits that have been sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities—some for decades—DNA evidence has already linked to multiple possible perpetrators. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has identified 21 potential serial rapists from the first 153 kits that the crime lab tested and entered into CODIS, the national DNA database, according to news reports.
These kits are part of an initial wave of 200 kits that have been sent for testing under the National Institute of Justice’s grant to address Detroit’s backlog of over 11,000 untested rape kits. The DNA evidence in these 21 cases matched to the DNA profiles of suspected offenders involved in at least one other rape case, according to ClickOn Detroit. In some cases, the evidence matched to the DNA in up to five other cases, according to the article.
Testing a rape kit can identify a potential assailant, confirm a suspect’s contact with a victim, corroborate the victim’s account of the sexual assault and exonerate innocent defendants. And of course, testing rape kits can connect suspects to other crimes.
In addition to identifying the possible serial rapists, the DNA evidence in the batch of 153 kits has yielded More >
The following post is a progress report from our GlobalGiving project to end the backlog of untested rape kits. To read this and our previous progress report, and to support this project, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/end-the-backlog-of-untested-rape-kits-us/.
We are happy to share with you that we have raised more than $5,500 through our GlobalGiving project to continue our work to end the backlog of untested rape kits and bring healing and justice to survivors of sexual assault.
We know that rape kit reform takes time—truly lasting change in the way our criminal justice system and we as a community respond to sexual violence will not come overnight. In our last GlobalGiving report, we gave you an introduction to our work in Detroit to end the city’s backlog of nearly 11,000 untested rape kits and support our collaborative partners through our Heal the Healers program.
Our commitment to end Detroit’s backlog of untested rape kits extends beyond supporting the wellness of police, social workers and prosecutors and today, we’d like to share another brief snapshot of what your funding is making possible.
With the goal of engaging and empowering survivors in the criminal justice system during rape kit reform, we are More >
A recent investigation by The Plain Dealer into almost 90 police reports made in Cleveland Heights reveals that officials have incorrectly categorized and chronically misinformed the public of the number of sex crimes reported in the city.
The Plain Dealer reports that, “at least a third of reported sex offenses, including many involving children, have been classified by the police department as non-crimes with labels such as ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘departmental information.’”
The investigation began after police reported that a total of 26 sexual assaults were reported in the city over a three year period. Reporters questioned the statistics and eventually, the city produced 88 cases that had been reported in the years between 2008 and 2010. Many of the cases has been classified as unfounded, closed without changes or not labeled as rape or sexual offenses.
The Plain Dealer also found that the city under-reported the number of “forcible rapes” to the FBI as well. Though the FBI’s definition is currently more narrow than the state law’s definition of sexual assault, almost two dozen cases should have been counted. Only three were reported from 2008 to 2010.
The New Orleans Police Department (NODP) is making progress on its backlog of over 800 untested rape kits. Various local news agencies reported that the NOPD expects that all kits, some of which date back to the 1980s, will be tested by early 2012.
So far, the department has tested about 300 of the kits, which have already yielded 12 DNA matches to profiles in the national DNA databank, CODIS. The NOPD has already made two arrests and expects to make many more as a result of the testing the backlogged rape kits.
“There are going to be a lot of individuals who are going to be arrested for sexual assaults that they thought they got away with,” said New Orleans Police Commander Paul Noel.
The department is working with the Louisiana State Police and Marshall University in West Virginia, which are contributing time and resources needed to test the hundreds of kits.
Nola.com reports that the NOPD is also working through another backlog: cases involving rape kits that yield DNA matches that were never investigated. When Noel took over as commander of the sex crimes division in July 2010, there were 400 such matches that were never properly investigated because police had downgraded More >
A corrections officer in Illinois has been charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old child in 1997 after a rape kit that was part of a backlog in Harvey, Illinois was finally tested. The case is another powerful and deeply troubling example that every untested rape kit represents the failure to bring justice to a survivor and to protect the public.
The victim submitted to a sexual assault evidence collection–or rape kit–exam in August of 1997 after reporting numerous instances of being sexual assaulted by her step-father, Robert Buchanan. Buchanan was questioned but never charged by the Harvey Police Department and went on to serve as a corrections officer in a local jail for over a decade.
This kit was one of 200 untested rape kits that the Cook County State’s Attorney office, the sheriff’s office and the Illinois State Police recovered in a 2007 raid, according to various news agencies, including NBC, CBS, ABC, the Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post.
Under the 2010 Illinois Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act, the first of two state-wide laws in the country that mandate law enforcement to track and test all rape kits, the Illinois State Police (ISP) was required to collect data on all untested rape More >