WUSA9 Follow-Up: Dozens of rape survivors get justice in Alameda County California
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- In May, we introduced you to a couple of brave women fighting to get the estimated 400,000 backlogged rape kits in this country tested. We have good news, in the form of justice for more than two dozen victims of this horrific, life-altering crime.
This story starts out in 1993. Natasha Alexenko was 20-years-old and living in New York City. She was coming home after getting together with co-workers, and had just reached her front door. A man was waiting for her. "I thought for certain that I was going to die," she said. "I was raped at gunpoint, and robbed and sodomized by an unknown assailant, and that completely changed my life."
Shattered, Natasha went to police. Then she waited, un-showered, in order to undergo an invasive, hours-long examination of her entire body so a nurse could collect DNA evidence for what's commonly called a rape kit.
Nine years passed. Natasha's rapist was still not arrested. Then, she found out why. Turns out, the one thing that could help catch him was sitting on a shelf. "It almost felt like a re-victimization finding out that the kit wasn't tested," she said.
Natasha created Natasha's Justice Project in 2011 to raise money and awareness with the hopes of getting every untested kit in the country tested. And her persistence is paying off.
WUSA9 was there at Bode Technology in Lorton, Va. recently, as 100-plus backlogged rape kits arrived for testing – a direct result of her hard work in partnership with Alameda County, California District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. The County still has about 1800 kits left to test, but this was a start.
Three months later, the results are back. Of the 100-plus kits, 50 came back with enough discernible DNA to generate DNA profiles. Those 50 were uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and 27 came up with matches. That represents 27 unsolved rape cases where police now have a suspect.
Natasha thanks Alameda County, Cal. District Attorney Nancy O'Malley for partnering with her to get this done. O'Malley is trying to create a blueprint for other jurisdictions.
If you're wondering what 27 stories of justice on the other side of the country has to do with you, know the rapists they are getting off the streets don't stay neatly behind state lines while committing these heinous crimes.
In Detroit, when the city tested just 1,600 of their 11,000-strong backlog, they identified 100 serial rapists, who had committed crimes in 23 other states and the District of Columbia.
This announcement marks a happy day for Natasha, "When you think about the closure that those victims are going to have, not only the closure they have but the family and friends that love them."
You might wonder why these kits go untested, often times, it's a case of money. Each kit can cost up to $1500 to test.
Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) is a senior member of the House Appropriations committee, and has been a leader in securing necessary funding for testing rape kits nationwide. He is also working with FBI Director Robert Mueller on this issue. "We are obligated to put forth the resources needed to test all evidence and pursue all leads in solving cases of rape."
Fore more information on Natasha's Justice Project, visit http://natashasjusticeproject.org/