Victim waits 14 years for rape kit to be tested
January 25, 2018 06:36 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Tim Keller pushed to clear the rape kit backlog in Albuquerque long before he became mayor. With a recently renewed effort, it's inspired victims of rape to come forward and inquire about their own rape kits.
There are roughly 4,000 untested rape kits in Albuquerque, some of them going back as far as the 1980's. Sue Wasson says she’s been waiting 14 years, trying to move on from not one, but two traumatic experiences.
"The first time I was assaulted it was 2003. It was two men," she said.
Like many rape victims, Wasson hasn't spoken about her experience publicly until now. At the time, Wasson was vulnerable. She had just lost her husband in 2003. She said she was approached by a man who used the Bible and God to gain her trust.
After being raped by that man and another, she reported the first rape and went through a rape kit exam. She describes the process as grueling, saying, "they poke and prod everywhere and they swab everywhere and just a lot of painful memories."
That kit was tested. Months later Wasson learned no evidence was found, but the nightmare was far from over. In 2004, she says she was approached by a man with a gun while getting gas who shoved her into his car and brutally raped her.
Wasson later learned this man violating her was one of the men from just one year prior.
"The reason I knew that was because he said I know you remember me," she recalls.
Wasson went through with another report and exam resulting in a second rape kit. To this day that rape kit still sits somewhere at the Albuquerque Police Department, waiting to be tested for 14 years.
While shocked, Wasson is hopeful. Keller recently signed an executive order calling on police to come up with a plan for clearing the rape kit backlog by March. To execute that plan, it will take years.
But for now, there's good news in Wasson's case. APD confirmed Wasson's kit from 2004 is in the process of being sent out for testing. Additionally, the department hopes to have a third of the untested kits tested by the end of 2018.
"Finally I get to find out and have some closure, you know whether there are answers or not, at least I'll know in here," said Wasson, pointing to her heart.
There is no word yet on when exactly Wasson's kit will be sent out, but KOB hopes to follow her story and report any updates when the time comes.
As for anyone else who's been a victim of rape and may also have an untested kit, you are encouraged to get in contact with APD's sex crimes unit at (505) 924-6000 or the Albuquerque SANE Collaborative at 505-883-8720.
Here is a full statement from APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos:
Clearing the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits is one of the most important things we can do to honor our commitment to survivors and identify offenders to put them behind bars. When Mayor Keller was the state auditor, he conducted the first statewide audit of untested sexual assault evidence kits that identified 4,000 untested kits at the APD crime lab. Now as Mayor, Keller stood with survivor advocates and APD to sign an Executive Order to develop a plan to clear the backlog. Rape kit backlogs are unfortunately prominent across the nation and we are standing with survivors of sexual assault to clear the one here at home. It is also critical for survivors of sexual assault to have access to services during this process. Survivors are encouraged to contact APD’s Sex Crimes Unit at 924-6000 or the Albuquerque SANE Collaborative at 505-883-8720.
The Executive Order is available here: https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/documents/eo-saek.pdf.
Updated: January 25, 2018 06:36 AM
Created: January 24, 2018 09:51 PM
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