Bill to ensure wider rape kit testing moves ahead

DENVER — Emotional testimony from the parents of Kenia Monge and other rape victims  propelled a proposal that seeks to make sure that all rape kits are tested after being collected out of a House committee.

The bill, which seeks to reduce the number of untested rape kits in Colorado, unanimously passed the House Judiciary committee today.

Rape kits are used in all sexual assault investigations to preserve evidence from alleged victims, but many kits in Colorado are never tested after they are collected.

“Collecting forensic evidence after an alleged sexual assault is traumatic for victims and is an exam that can take hours,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

“Due diligence, especially under these circumstances, should be a priority for everyone in law enforcement.”

House Bill 1020, would require the department of public safety to adopt standards for when evidence collected after a sexual assault is submitted and also creates time frames for when it must be analyzed and compared to DNA databases.

Consent of the victim is required prior to the release of any evidence.

Tony Lee, stepfather of Kenia Monge, who was raped and murdered in 2011 by Travis Forbes, told lawmakers that more DNA evidence collection will encourage more women to come forward after being raped.

“If Kenia would have lived through what she went through, she would have been here today,” Lee said. “Our hope and prayer is to let women know that at least the evidence that was collected is going to be added to a database.”

In Colorado, hundreds of rape kits remain untested across multiple counties, even though the Colorado Bureau of Investigations offers to test the collected evidence free of charge.

“We should leave no rock unturned when it comes to providing justice to these victims and putting sex offenders in jail.” McNulty said. “Laying out standards that help ensure we’re testing the forensic evidence we collect is the right thing to do. This will help solve and prevent future crimes.”