Orange County Clears DNA Sexual Assault Kit Backlog; Charges Filed in 6 Cold Cases

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Orange County Crime Lab Clears DNA Rape Kit Backlog Leading to Charges in 6 Cold Cases

Orange County Crime Lab Clears DNA Rape Kit Backlog Leading to Charges in 6 Cold Cases

Jul 8, 2022

Law enforcement officials in Orange County, California, cleared a backlog of hundreds of untested DNA sexual assault kits dating back decades, the results of which led to charges being filed in six cold cases, the District Attorney’s Office confirmed last week.

Orange County Clears DNA Sexual Assault Kit Backlog; Charges Filed in 6 Cold Cases

At least 1,700 DNA rape kits were tested by the county’s crime lab as well as an outside lab under the direction of the District Attorney’s Orange County Sexual Assault Forensic Endeavor (OC SAFE) program, the D.A.’s Office confirmed in a public statement.

Every one of these untested sexual assault kits represents a victim who deserves justice,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement.

“By clearing the backlog, we fulfilled a promise to every victim of sexual assault that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will never stop fighting for victims and we will never stop fighting for justice,” Spitzer added.

The oldest untested DNA sexual assault kit reportedly dated back to 1977, according to Kimberly Edds, spokesperson for the D.A.’s Office.

Edds further confirmed, according to a report from NBC News, that approximately two dozen additional DNA rape kits collected by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are currently being tested.

The OC SAFE program reportedly began in 2016 with around $2 million in state and federal funding.

NBC News reported that the testing of the backlogged DNA rape kits resulted in:

  • Hundreds of new suspect DNA profiles being uploaded to law enforcement databases around the country, including the FBI’s national DNA database
  • Criminal charges being filed in six cold cases

One such cold case involved a woman who was raped at gunpoint in 1993 in Stanton, California, by a man who pretended to be a police officer, NBC News reported.

The woman was raped in a car while on a date with another man. The couple also were robbed and their car stolen,” NBC News confirmed.

“DNA from the rape kit led to a suspect, Michael Ray Armijo, who was convicted last year of two felony counts of kidnap to commit robbery with enhancements for personal use of a firearm. The DA’s office said Armijo couldn’t be charged with rape because the statute of limitations had expired but he was given the maximum possible sentence of 24 years to life in state prison,” the NBC News report indicated.

Why Do DNA Rape Kits Go Untested?

Why Do DNA Rape Kits Go Untested?

A KTLA report notes that OC SAFE offers various reasons for rape kits going untested, including:

  • Cases in which a suspect was identified through “superior evidence” such as a confession or other evidence collected at a crime scene.
  • Testing may not be conducted if the survivor opted not to cooperate with the investigation.
  • Limitations in technology may also impact DNA rape kit testing.
  • Shortages in funding and qualified staff members may impact how quickly DNA sexual assault kits are tested in specific jurisdictions.

KTLA further reported that OC SAFE representatives confirmed “major changes” which have been implemented to prevent future testing backlogs. Such changes reportedly include “better cooperation between law enforcement agencies, crime labs and those who are qualified to perform and collect the evidence acquired in a sexual assault kit.”

Moreover, as of 2016, California law requires all law enforcement agencies to submit forensic evidence of sexual assaults to crime labs within 20 days of collection.

OC SAFE offers further information in a Frequently Asked Questions section on the organization’s website.

HBO ‘I Am Evidence’ Documentary Highlights National Rape Kit Backlog Issue

Last year, Dordulian Law Group (DLG) published a blog detailing the scope of the national rape kit backlog issue, which was also presented in a 2017 HBO documentary entitled, “I Am Evidence.

The film includes numerous examples of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation that have cleared backlogs of DNA rape and sexual assault kits, often leading to criminal charges being filed against repeat offenders.

For additional information on how backlogged DNA rape kits are being addressed on a state-by-state basis, please visit the website.

Filing a Sexual Assault Civil Lawsuit – What are My Options?

Sexual assault survivors should be aware of the different types of justice available after a crime has occurred, including both civil and criminal proceedings. Criminal charges may be filed in sexual assault cases, but that ultimate decision rests with the District Attorney’s Office.

Sexual assault civil lawsuits may be filed by or on behalf of survivors, regardless of whether or not criminal charges are ever brought. In many cases, sexual assault civil claims may be settled without ever having to go to trial. Additionally, many sexual assault civil claims are settled while preserving the anonymity of the survivor.

DLG’s Los Angeles, California, sexual assault lawyers are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about filing a civil lawsuit for damages against a sexual predator.

For additional information on the difference between sexual assault civil and criminal lawsuits, please visit DLG’s recent blog.

What Damages May be Recovered in a Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

Survivors of sexual assault may wish to file civil lawsuits in an effort to recover financial compensation.

Compensation for various damages may be secured through a sexual assault civil claim, such as:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Counseling or therapy expenses
  • Psychological distress
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Hospital or medical expenses

DLG’s sexual assault lawyers are dedicated to fighting aggressively on behalf of all clients to secure any applicable financial damages through a maximum cash settlement or verdict.

Contact California’s Best Sexual Assault Lawyers – DLG’s SAJE Team

DLG is a leading California-based sexual assault and abuse firm fighting for survivors across the nation. Our four-tiered SAJE Team offers clients a unique type of legal representation which includes access to:

  • Two licensed and nationally accredited victim advocates
  • A licensed in-house clinical therapist
  • A retired LAPD sex crimes detective
  • A former sex crimes prosecutor

Led by Sam Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, DLG’s sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.

Some of our recent sexual abuse and assault civil lawsuit victories include:

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

For a free and confidential consultation regarding your sexual assault case, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056.

Our sex crime attorneys have secured more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for survivors while maintaining a 98% success record. When you’re ready to take the first step towards obtaining justice on your own terms, DLG’s SAJE Team is here to fight tirelessly on your behalf.

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