Rape Crisis Center hopes new GBI lab will help with backlog of rape kits

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire hopes the new GBI crime lab has handling rape kits on the top of its to-do list.

Thousands of kits in Georgia are sitting, left untested. Recently, over 300 of those right here in Chatham County.

We're looking at hundreds of victims in our area that are waiting for answers every day, but the Crisis Center does not have a current, exact number. That's where this new crime lab will come in, to hopefully give them answers more quickly.

As for the rape kits, it's not one test. There are swabs, specimen samples and several steps of testing to determine if a victim was raped and how. These kits require intense examination.

An employee says thank goodness for the crime lab, they really need the help and so do the victims, who often leave when they don't have answers soon enough.

"Well, sometimes we lose contact with some of the survivors because maybe they move or maybe it's just so painful for them to not have answers. Or maybe they're not going to get any answers so they shut themselves off to hearing anything from us or hearing anything from the police," said Shaniqua Harmon, with the Rape Crisis Center.

Harmon goes on, "It's always difficult because victims expect things to come right away, so here at the Rape Crisis Center we try to get them to understand that there is a process and it does take a little time for the kits to come back, but when it's excessive years that can become a problem for them because they don't have any closure."

Closure. That's what these victims need. But an opening of a new crime lab is what's going to help get them that.

Harmon also said the one thing these victims are looking for is justice and she hopes this new crime lab will bring just that.

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