FRANKFORT, Ky. -- About half of all women in Kentucky will experience an act of sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, but not every victim makes it to the police.
Social stigma, confusion and fear of the attacker can all prevent victims from seeking law enforcement's help, and even those who do might never see their day in court. In 2015, a state audit discovered more than 3,000 rape kits, some of them dating back to the 1970s, lying untested in police storage. It took around eight months for those that were tested to reach a lab.
Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin said Tuesday they hope to finally give each of those thousands of stories a just ending in coming years.
"Those who had no one to speak for them or seek justice for so long now will have a dedicated unit who work day after day on their cases," Beshear said.
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Senate Bill 63, which passed in 2016, puts measures in place that legislators hope will prevent another backlog from accruing in the future. By 2020, state police will be required to process rape kits within an average of 60 days.
Additionally, with the help of a $4.5 million donation from a survivor of campus sexual assault, Kentucky created a dedicated cold case unit designed to prosecute old sexual assault cases.
"These weren't just boxes on a shelf," Beshear said. "They were courage."