To Alaska’s ever-lasting shame, a woman has been waiting for justice for the past 18 years because evidence collected after she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted sat untested.
The Anchorage Daily News, as part of an investigative series with ProPublica, identifies her as Anna Sattler. She reported she was attacked in 2001 by a man who offered her a ride home. She escaped by jumping from his moving vehicle.
Sattler is far from alone. At one point recently there were more than 3,400 so-called rape kits languished in police evidence rooms across the state. Some date back to at least 1993. The Accountability Project reports there are more than 1,600 of the untested kits in Anchorage alone.
Officials point to a lack of funding to pay for the testing, and Sattler’s kit was tested only because of a federal grant to help the state deal with its backlog.
The results led to rape and kidnapping charges against 57-year-old Carmen D. Perzechino Jr., a former dog musher who competed in the 2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He was extradited from the Philippines to face the charges.
Across the nation, perhaps 200,000 rape kits are warehoused, untested. The Atlantic, in “An epidemic of disbelief,” lays out the shocking story. Over the years, rapists and other sexual predators whose DNA is contained in those kits have been free to prey on other victims. You have to wonder how many serial rapists remain at large because those kits are not a top priority; how many new victims there are who would not have been victims if the kits had been tested.
Government really has few legitimate jobs. One of them is public safety. Across the nation, governments have failed. Testing rape kits to track down rapists and other violent criminals in an effort to provide justice for victims and safety for the rest of us should be a top priority for state and local governments.
Ask Anna Sattler.