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Attorney general transfers funds to help end rape kit backlog

Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - Updated: 2:07 AM
Staff report

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Monday that his office will transfer $30,000 to the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab to help end the state's rape kit backlog.

The money is the amount of interest accumulated to date from the multimillion-dollar Risperdal settlement. The Attorney General's office alleged Johnson & Johnson dishonestly marketed its drug Risperdal to patients and the medical community in Kentucky.

In order to maximize the use of the settlement funds, Beshear's office placed the money in interest-bearing accounts.

"I am committed to securing justice for every victim whose kit has not been tested," Beshear said in a statement. "Through good fiscal management, our transfer will test more kits and speed up that justice."

The $30,000, which would cover the cost of testing nearly 50 kits, is the first payment to KSP from the interest on the settlement funds. Beshear expects to give KSP additional payments.

Upon taking office, Beshear made ending Kentucky's backlog and providing justice for victims of sexual assault a top priority, a news release said.

Beshear's office has been partnering with lawmakers, law enforcement and advocates to end Kentucky's Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence kit or SAFE kit backlog since the spring when Senate Bill 63 was passed that directed the 3,000-plus untested kits to be tested.

Beshear recommended and provided $4.5 million from the Risperdal settlement to lawmakers for Kentucky State Police Crime Lab upgrades to prevent the state's safe kit backlog. His office provided an additional $1 million from the settlement to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases.

The Attorney General's Office has held a summit for those working to end Kentucky's safe kit backlog, and is currently partnering to train law enforcement officials on how to conduct victim-centered investigations and prosecute sexual assault offenders. The office is partnering with the University of Louisville's Department of Criminal Justice to provide accountability in Kentucky's safe kit backlog efforts.

Beshear's office is sponsoring a conference for prosecutors April 11-13 on handling cold case sexual assault cases. Additionally, there is a toolkit available to law enforcement officials and advocates.

"We appreciate the hard work being done by KSP employees at the lab to inventory untested kits and to encourage departments to submit all kits in accordance with the Safe Act," Beshear said.

"Addressing Kentucky's safe kit backlog will not be possible without collaboration, and I recognize the work and commitment of all our partners."

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