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Criminal Justice Council





Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)


Official logo and tagline for: SAKI. Sexual Assault Kit Initiative | Reform. Accountability. Justice.

If you were the victim of a sexual assault and had a sexual assault exam performed by a medical professional, you can check the testing status and ask questions at any time by reaching out to the responding law enforcement agency, or the Delaware Victims Center at 1-800-VICTIM1. Both options are confidential and do not require additional participation with the criminal justice system.

Additional questions or issues can be shared with the Delaware SAKI Coordinator, Mike Kelly, by calling (302) 577-8717 or emailing michael.kelly@delaware.gov.

You can also reach the voicemail box for Delaware SAKI at 302-577-8729.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2018-AK-BX-0018 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.


About SAKI

Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases. Through this program, funding is provided to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.

From 2015 to 2022, 76 SAKI grantees have received funding. SAKI sites, both currently and previously funded, represent approximately 57% of the U.S. population (331.5 million). Because the SAKI program has expanded to include multiple purpose areas, SAKI grantees have been able to receive additional funding to expand their SAKI programs to include these additional areas of focus, such as prosecuting sexual assaults and pursuing lawfully owed DNA, to create a comprehensive response to sexual assault. Each SAKI site has its own webpage on the official SAKI website and includes additional information about the site and how SAKI funds are being used.

SAKI is critical to enhancing the criminal justice response to sexual assault and ensuring justice for victims. SAKI funding will not only help link victims to advocates and needed services, but also help jurisdictions implement best practices and comprehensive reform to help bring perpetrators to justice and increase safety in communities by preventing future sexual assaults.

There is currently no reliable estimate for the number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have not been submitted to a crime laboratory; however, the reasons behind the backlog are complex. Unsubmitted SAKs can be attributed to many factors, including poor evidence tracking, outdated and ineffective investigation practices, lack of resources and personnel, misunderstanding of crime lab case acceptance policies, and lack of understanding among law enforcement personnel about the value of testing SAKs. Resolving these issues is critical to providing justice for victims and preventing such a backlog in the future.

As of April 2022, SAKI sites have reported:

  • 146,278 kits inventoried
  • 83,201 kits sent for testing
  • 72,350 kits tested to completion
  • 30,259 DNA profiles uploaded to CODIS
  • 13,961 CODIS hits
  • 1,938 CODIS hits to serial sex offenders
  • 7,316 CODIS hits to serial violent offenders
  • 20,448 investigations
  • 1,874 cases charged
  • 1,069 convictions

About Delaware SAKI

On June 25, 2015, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1). This resolution called for every law enforcement agency to report to the Attorney General’s Office the number of untested sexual assault kits. The report provided us with a count of 1,033 untested sexual assault kits that were in the evidence storage facilities of our police agencies, hereby referred to as the backlog.

The Delaware Criminal Justice Council (CJC) applied for a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to address the backlog, and was awarded a three-year, $1,168,662.00 SAKI grant in September of 2015.

The goal of this grant program was to address the growing number of unsubmitted SAKs in law enforcement custody, and to help provide resolution for victims when possible. There is broad consensus that this must be accomplished through a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach. Grant funding was used to inventory the existing numbers of untested SAKs, test these kits at accredited laboratories, pursue investigative leads and potential prosecution, and ensure that support is provided throughout the process.

Accomplishments include:

  • Implementation of evidence-tracking features within the existing statewide law enforcement case management system, by adding SAK-specific fields and generating automated email notifications.
  • Implementation of trauma-informed training on sexual assault investigations, and additional training intended to increase the collection of offender DNA for CODIS upload purposes.
  • Delaware Department of Justice issuance of an updated sexual assault kit testing policy, to prevent any future backlog of sexual assault kits in Delaware.

Delaware formed a multi-disciplinary steering committee and three sub-committees (Law Enforcement, SANE and Victims Services) to provide direction and to address the issues outlined in the federal grant application. These committees met and communicated regularly throughout the grant funding term, and are encouraged to build sustainability around SAKI’s mission and accomplishments.

Every Delaware law enforcement agency with untested kits collected prior to 2019 has been visited and inventoried, and relevant case information has been documented.


FAQs

Now that all pre-2019 kits have been tested, follow-up continues with a multi-disciplinary approach. Law Enforcement, a Deputy Attorney General, and Victims Services professionals review all aspects of the case to determine next steps. If a case is reopened, Victim Services and Special Victims detectives will meet with the survivor to see if they wish to engage in the criminal justice process. We are victim-driven, working at the survivor’s pace, so that they can take time to process everything, seek support from loved ones, and talk with sexual assault victim advocates who can help them make an informed choice. The next step could include a meeting with the Department of Justice to speak with the Prosecutor and the Victim/Witness Social Worker.

A survivor has the right to decline to speak with Victim Advocates and Law Enforcement Investigators; however, decisions regarding prosecution are made solely by the prosecutor.

Many factors go into the decision to prosecute an offender, and even cases that are prosecuted do not always end up in a trial. For example, there won’t be a trial if the identified offender is deceased, or in the case of a plea agreement. Survivors have the right to voice an opinion about a plea agreement, and should be kept informed about the progress of their case by the prosecutor’s staff.

Survivors have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect; to privacy and confidentiality; to be informed; to be heard and to participate in the criminal justice process; to timely disposition of the case; to notice about the status of the case; and to apply for compensation. Survivors have a right to ask about the status of their case and the results of the Sexual Assault Kit. Please see the Delaware Victims Bill of Rights

No, victim DNA is never sent/uploaded to CODIS.

It depends on the type of hit. If there is a CODIS hit to a known offender whose DNA is already in CODIS, investigative follow-up typically occurs to determine that person’s potential involvement. If, however, there is a CODIS hit to another case, this is known as a forensic hit. In this scenario, a suspect would only be identified of one of the matched cases has a known suspect or known offender. If not, the hit only confirms that the two crimes were likely committed by the same person, but that person’s identity is unknown.

Crime Victim Compensation Fund

Delaware has a crime victim compensation fund designed to reimburse crime victims for some of the costs resulting from criminal victimization. Information is available by contacting:
Victims’ Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP)

Victim Case Status

We encourage those who have ever had a sexual assault kit collected and would like more information such as status of their case or to be connected to the correct department to please contact one of the following:

  1. Delaware Victims Center at 1-800-VICTIM1 (1-800-842-8461)
  2. The specific Police Departments Victim Services Unit
  3. Department of Justice at 302-577-8917
  4. You can also call the Delaware SAKI Coordinator, Mike Kelly at 302-577-8717 or send him an email to michael.kelly@delaware.gov.

Victim Support

All victims of Sexual Assault can receive support and information by calling the following Rape Crisis Hotlines 24/7:

  • New Castle and Sussex County YWCA SARC 1-800-773-5870
  • Kent and Sussex County call the ContactLifeline Rape Crisis at 1-800-262-9800. They can help answer your questions and help with the application process as well.

Resources for Survivors

All victims of sexual assault can receive support and information at any time by reaching out to one or more of the organizations listed below. Delawareans can also refer to the Delaware Alliance Against Sexual Violence (DAASV) website for additional no-cost survivor resources.

Please note that the Delaware Victims Center is the only organization that can follow up directly on the status of a sexual assault kit.

Delaware Victims Center
Contact #: 1-800-842-8461 (VICTIM1)

Website: dsp.delaware.gov

The Victim Service Section of the Delaware State Police has the following goals:

  • Provide 24-hour short- and long-term crisis intervention
  • Act as a coordinated resource for information and referrals
  • Reduce further trauma to victims, witnesses, and survivors
  • Provide a smoother transition into the criminal justice system, and guarantee services regardless of whether an arrest is made

Other Services Available

  • Check on the status of a sexual assault kit, and provide contact information for the appropriate agency
  • Court accompaniment
  • Follow up contacts, calls, letters and/or home visits
  • Assistance with filing for emergency financial assistance
  • Landlord/employer intervention
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Contact #: 1-800-656-4673

Website: National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline Details

When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be routed to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of your phone number. Cell phone callers have the option to enter the ZIP code of their current location to more accurately locate the nearest sexual assault service provider.

How can the hotline help you?

Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline gives you access to a range of free services including:

  • Confidential support from a trained staff member
  • Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns
YWCA Sexual Assault Response Center (SARC)
Contact #: 1-800-773-8570

Website: https://www.ywcade.org/what-we-do/sarc/

The YWCA SARC provides comprehensive, free, confidential rape crisis services to sexual assault survivors aged 12 and older, and their non-offending family members, friends, and partners throughout the State of Delaware. SARC is committed to providing healing, hope and empowerment to individuals whose lives have been impacted by sexual violence whether the assault happened yesterday or many years ago.

Sexual Assault Response Advocates are available to assist survivors in need of medical, police and legal accompaniment, supportive telephone counseling, aftercare follow-up services, as well as information and referral to vital community services.

ContactLifeline

Contact #: 1-800-262-9800

Website: www.contactlifeline.org

ContactLifeline is a non-profit organization that provides:

  • 24-hour, professionally trained support for individuals in need of short- and long-term crisis intervention, regardless of when the crisis occurred.
  • Comprehensive statewide services to victims of sexual assault and secondary victims of sexual assault
  • Anonymous and confidential information and referrals
  • Education and prevention services for persons in crisis and for persons in need of listening services

Training Resources

Online training videos, webinars, presentation materials, documents and guides were updated by the Delaware SAKI program in 2022. These resources have been broken down into lists geared towards law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, and victim advocates; they are available for download in PDF format below. Note that these resources are intended to be valuable to anyone working on SAKI-related efforts in Delaware and nationwide, and for sexual assault or trauma-informed investigations in general.


Delaware SAKI Initiative Media Coverage

  1. ‘Justice served’: Delaware sets new policies to test rape exam kits, speed up investigations
  2. State Auditor: “Delaware Criminal Justice Council Policy Updates Improve Justice for All”
  3. DOJ Press Release
  4. Auditor: Delaware erases rape kit backlog
  5. Finding justice for rape victims whose cases went unresolved
  6. Bear Man Gets Life for Raping Three Women
  7. Tackling the rape kit backlog has already gotten results
  8. PA man linked to 7 Wilmington-area rapes in 5 years during backlogged kit testing pleads guilty
  9. Chester man gets 20 years for Wilmington rape spree
  10. DNA-Based Investigation Leads to Indictment and Arrest in 1993 Sexual Assault
  11. Pennsylvania Man Charged In Decades-Old Rape Case After DNA Links Him to Attack
  12. COLD CASE: Pennsylvania man arrested in 1993 Delaware sexual assault case
  13. Convicted Rapist Facing Life In Prison For Attacks Dating Back To 2010
  14. Delaware Gets Help with Backlog of Untested Rape Kits

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