Rape kit backlog has victim fighting back
TULSA, Okls. (KTUL) —
1979 should have been a good year for Danielle Tudor.
She was a senior in high school, her future looked bright.
Except, it wasn't a great year.
All because of that one terrible night.
"An intruder broke into my childhood home, and basically hunted me down in the darkness. And when he found me, he beat and raped me," said Tudor.
Seven years later, the serial rapist would be caught. And it was Tudor who helped bring him to justice.
"And the way we solved it was by a composite sketch that I gave police the night of my rape," said Tudor.
She knows the importance of good evidence.
But Tudor said thousands of rape kits go untested every year in Oklahoma.
It's why she's helping to push three separate House Bills.
One dealing with the statute of limitations for rapists.
Another, a sort of bill of rights for rape victims.
And a third bill that would create a task force to help audit and keep track of existing rape kits in evidence across the state.
She said the hardest part will be determining exactly how many rape kits are out there, locked away in police evidence rooms.
"We're starting from scratch," said Tudor. "There's no statewide system that tracks rape kits, so we're completely in the dark. We're starting from square one."
State Rep. Monroe Nichols, is working with Tudor to see this through.
"The other thing we want to do is make sure the backlog doesn't happen again," said Nichols.
He has a house bill of his own, HB 1502, which would put time limits on how long law enforcement has to test rape kits.
"We wouldn't be ok if we treated murders this way," said Nichols.
Nichols and Tudor said the only way to make this work is with lots of help from law enforcement.