DeWine encourages law enforcement to focus on rape cases

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Monday, Attorney General Mike DeWine was the keynote speaker at the "2 Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance."

While there, AG DeWine discussed his Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative, where the department processed DNA analysis of nearly 14,000 once-forgotten rape kits from across Ohio.

"What we do is: we send them back to the police department to work them," said DeWine. "I think the next step is for us today to really encourage police departments all over Ohio. If we sent you back a positive match on a rape kit, you need to do something about that."

Teresa Stafford, Senior Director of victim services for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center has attended the conference for several years. She has a personal interest in helping sexual assault victims.

"I’m a survivor of child sex abuse," she said. "I never disclosed...didn’t feel comfortable...didn’t have the words or the knowledge to know what was actually going on for a long period of time. I just kept it silent."

She says programs like the Sexual Assault Kit testing initiative help victims feel supported by law enforcement and government when reporting their assaults.

"It’s so important that when a survivor does disclose to somebody within the system, that they feel that they have been believed, they feel heard and they have access to services that can help them through that process."

More than 8,648 DNA profiles have been uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) as a result of the testing initiative. Hundreds of attackers have also been charged.