Justice denied: Rape kits left untested in several states

Justice is being delayed or denied for thousands of women who reported being raped. In five major cities alone, more than 9,000 rape kits have gone untested.

Brenda Tracy
CBS News

In 1998, Brenda Tracy reported to police in Oregon that she was gang-raped by four football players. At a hospital, nurses gathered evidence for a rape kit.

"I assumed it would stay with the police and be tested," said Tracy. "I assumed they would do something with it."

The men were arrested based on Tracy's identification but she says she was intimidated and dropped the charges. Years later, she reconsidered -- but discovered her rape kit had never been tested and in fact had been destroyed.

"I was devastated because I did everything right and I told the police what happened to me," she said. "And I was betrayed."

New data gathered by the Joyful Heart Foundation, a non-profit that works on national sexual assault issues, shows there are many cities where thousands of rape kits remain untested.

More than a thousand in Charlotte and Kansas City, Missouri, nearly 2,000 in Jacksonville and Portland and almost 3,000 in San Diego.

"I have worked with a lot of rape survivors whose kits have gone untested and they suffer through a lot of shame, and they still blame themselves because often their kit could be the evidence that is needed to show that they were telling the truth," said Ilsa Knecht, who is with the foundation.

In the last five years, CBS News has reported on several cities where rape kits sat untested. In one of those cities, Cleveland, once the kits were analyzed, they revealed 225 men were potentially linked to multiple rapes.

Brenda Tracy is now working on legislation in Oregon.

"I want them to be tested, these victims have allowed for evidence to be gathered from their bodies and they deserve to have the DNA tested, every DNA kit should be tested, every case, every time," she said.