SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced that it has cleared a backlog of untested rape kits and significantly shortened processing times moving forward.
“These are very invasive examinations and they’re done at a time when someone has been victimized and assaulted and feels very vulnerable,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. “The least we can do is test that kit and try to find any evidence that we can.”
A newly passed state law requires rape kits to be processed within 120 days of their arrival at the crime lab. According to the DA’s office, Santa Clara County’s crime lab was averaging 94 days to test rape kits, which would have put them well within the state’s new requirement.
In 2018, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez urged the DA’s office to shorten the processing time — with a goal of getting it down under a month.
“At the state level, there was goal — not even a mandate — that kits be tested within 120 days. And I want you to think about that for a moment. That’s 120 days of someone just roaming the streets potentially harming someone else,” said Supervisor Chavez.
Governor Gavin Newsome signed AB22 last fall which required for the first that rape kits statewide be tested within 120 days of their arrival at a crime lab.
District Attorney Rosen says the crime lab’s rapid testing of rape kits helped police and prosecutors quickly build a case against sexual assault suspect Johnathan Flores Valencia. Valencia was arrested and charged for allegedly raping a woman in the early morning hours of Super Bowl Sunday.
“A DNA profile was developed and input into the national database. And by Wednesday, there was a hit on Johnathan Flores Valencia,” Rosen said.
Supervisor Chavez says it cost the county $600,000 to hire additional crime lab technicians to clear the backlog and more quickly process new cases.
On Tuesday, county officials said there are no more kits in the county backlog and all kits are processed within 30 days.