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Questions abound as police botch rape kits due to water damage

The following story may be a bit older and it may not be happening here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; but the factors involved will have local residents understanding that the police do not always respect the criminal justice process in the way they may think. People in Chicago are upset that local law enforcement botched the rape kits of numerous sex crime investigations. The kits were taken by the police and then stored in an evidence facility — only to be forgotten about. Wasting away in storage, the rape kits suffered water damage instead of being turned over to a crime lab for testing. Now, many of the rape kits are unusable, which means that the cases will never go to trial. Consider a few factors here. First, let’s start with a general discussion. Yes, criminal defense is what we do — but sex crimes are truly terrible crimes. Let’s get that out of the way up front. Some people are accused of rape or sexual assault and are truly guilty; others are wrongfully accused and deserve to be acquitted; and others still are somewhere in between these groups, where their case has been improperly handled or it has extenuating circumstances. They exist in a gray area, and their case could go either way. But, over all of this context, one thing remains constant: sex crimes are heinous. Second, think about the victims of these sex crimes. Their lives were changed forever because of what was done to them; and now, the organization that is supposed to uphold the law can’t because of their own laziness. The victims should feel aggrieved. Last but not least, consider the criminal defense side here. Everyone likes to think of the police and believe “yes, they do things right.” But that is not always the case. In fact, procedural or clerical errors by the police are not as uncommon as you may think. When the police violate due process like this, the defendant can have the case against them dropped. Source: FOX 32, “Victim’s groups furious after backlogged rape kits damaged,” Dane Placko, May 17, 2013

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