SPD provides new avenues to solve older sexual assault cases

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SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Police Department has set up a new phone line and email to aid in investigations as they review cold case sexual assaults.

The review is under the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project, which calls for testing thousands of backlogged rape kits across the state. These cases may include sexual assault reports filed on and before July 15, 2015.

SPD said they are working with the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Victim Advocates with Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW).

Approximately 1,000 of the 1,500-plus kits submitted by SPD have been tested and results have been returned. SPD said detectives are currently analyzing each case to determine which ones are likely solvable or may result in a meaningful conclusion, and which warrant closing out.

Even when testing results in a CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) hit – meaning DNA evidence matches a profile registered in the federal database – SPD said there’s no guarantee a case will be solved, but it may just be the missing link.

Such a DNA match recently helped SPD detectives find a suspect in a 2012 rape. The man is currently in prison for a previous rape, but before he was incarcerated he allegedly committed another rape. The DNA match provided evidence to resume the investigation and may result in an additional rape charge.

SPD said the mission of the project is to seek a just resolution for survivors of sexual assault. They added each case has a unique fact pattern, and there are numerous considerations to be understood regarding this program.

In all of these cases, regardless of the ability to pursue criminal charges, SPD said survivors can be offered assistance from the confidential, trauma-informed victim advocates at LCSNW, including Walker, their courthouse facility dog. They also have the option to decline assistance from LCSNW.

SPD is asking anyone who wishes to inquire about their case, to place a call 509-625-4240, and/or send an email to spdvictimreporting@spokanepolice.org. The survivor is asked to leave their name and phone number, and an investigator and/or victim advocate will return a call to verify identity, answer questions and discuss options moving forward.

SPD encourages survivors to initiate contact, even if they may not wish to pursue criminal charges.

Survivors can also contact LCSNW Victim Advocates’s 24/7 sexual assault support line at 509-624-7273.