State authorities first estimated in 2014 that roughly 6,000 rape kits were sitting in local police and medical facilities. The evidence — clothing, DNA samples and other material collected after sexual assault allegations — was never sent to state labs for testing.
Of those 6,000 untested rape kits, about 2,000 belong to child victims.
Exactly how many kits came from possible child victims is unclear because in hundreds of cases, state and local authorities have yet to track down information needed to calculate a person’s age. As of August, the tally of kits involving child sexual assault allegations was at least 2,441. Young adults represent the next largest age group, as more than 2,100 kits came from people age 18 to 29.
A sizeable chunk of the rape kit backlog (all rape kits, including those of adults) are because prosecutors failed to indict or police officers failed to charge alleged assailants.
But state records paint a more troubling picture of how law enforcement authorities responded to thousands of reported sexual assaults stretching back decades. Many kits were never sent to labs because police declined to pursue investigations or because prosecutors declined to pursue charges. Those two scenarios explain nearly 42 percent of Wisconsin’s rape kits backlog, including more than 1,000 kits involving possible child victims and more than 900 kits involving possible crimes against young adults.