Change could be coming in backlog of decades-old rape kits

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- After an ABC13 investigation showed sexual assault victims routinely waiting months for DNA results on their alleged attackers, State Senator John Whitmire says he is "fired up" about the issue.

DPS admits they don't have enough lab personnel to cut the wait times and can't get lawmakers help to hire more. Our investigation showed repeated requests for additional staff have gone unmet for at least six years.

Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, is the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. He told ABC13 he spoke with Col. Steve McCraw, the head of Texas' Department of Public Safety shortly before sitting down with us.

RELATED: Houston rape kit backlog back after being cleared

"No one (from DPS) has made this a priority. I am certain it's been in their budget request but you have to do better than that," he said. "You have to put your foot down, maybe hit the table, and say I have to have this if we're going to have a credible, tough and smart criminal justice system."

ABC13 examined the DPS' Budget Request. DPS did ask for the help, but they didn't exactly scream for it. DPS's so-call LAR is 688 pages long. There are six words addressing the DNA delay on page 265 and 53 pages later, a little more.

DPS admits that even with extra personnel, they won't regularly meet DNA testing benchmarks until 2019.

RELATED: Delayed DNA testing allowed alleged rapists to commit new crimes

"(Rape victims) should not have to wait nine months for results," Whitmire told ABC13. "Of course not."

In November, an alleged sexual assault victim from Pearland told ABC13 she had waited nearly nine months for the DPS lab to turn around results on her alleged attacker. Friday, she said DPS just informed her it will be at least another month. That means she will wait at least 290 days since her rape kit evidence was taken to get results. That's longer than she was told in November.
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