GS’ Office of Public Safety sends untested rape kits to the GBI

Tandra Smith

Georgia Southern’s Office of Public Safety recently sent 10 untested rape kits to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) due a new act signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on July 1.

The Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault Act now requires that any rape kits that are performed by any agency or health care professional must be sent to the GBI within 30 days, according to an article by WTOC.

“Because of the new laws that have been passed, we are going to have all kits tested. So from now on, that’s the procedure we will follow,” GS Public Safety Lt. Christopher McBride said.

The kits that were sent to the GBI were from a combination of years between 2011 and 2015. Of the 10 kits, most of them weren’t going to be prosecuted by the DA or the victim and a couple of the cases even went inactive.

Before the passing of the new law, the rape tests would be stored if the victim chose not to prosecute the accused, or if there was not enough evidence to go forward with a criminal case. Now, all kits must be sent to the GBI, regardless if there will be a criminal case or not.

GS Public Safety follows a very strict and serious procedure once a sexual assault is reported.

“Once the incident is reported to [Public Safety] we have a sexual assault protocol that we follow that is in place. We follow that protocol and the victim is taken to what’s known as the Teal House for the sexual assault exam,” McBride said. “Once the exam is complete, the sexual assault nurse examiner will secure the kit and they will turn it over to the police agency, which will be us. From there, we will secure it to our evidence and we will continue our investigation.”

The GBI’s State Crime Lab is currently dealing with a backlog of kits, according to The 40 scientists at the lab have to test over 3,000 active cases, and the 10 kits from GS are now in the mix.

Many students couldn’t believe that it could take years for GBI scientists see the GS kits.

James Spangler, undeclared Move on When Ready student, said, “It’s ridiculous. They probably should’ve been sent in immediately.”

Officials have said that it could be until after 2017 before all of the backlogged kits are tested and McBride agrees.

“Under normal circumstances, it usually takes the crime lab anywhere from 90 to 120 days. Under these circumstances, unless they have hired some more personnel, I expect for us to not have results until maybe a year and a half or two years. It’s going to take a while,” McBride said.

Students were surprised at the number of kits that public safety had as well.

“To me, it’s a high number. It’s higher than I thought,” Devon Piatkin, freshman undeclared, said. “Rape is a big problem. I don’t think [testing the kits] should take that long.”

Data compiled from the GS Public Safety Annual Security Report.