“Why are there so many untested rape kits in NC?” People have asked in response to an article on who initiated the rape kit inventory in NC and to posts about #endthebacklog and the documentary “I Am Evidence” that examines the problem of untested rape kits and is being shown on HBO at 8pm on 4/16/18.
The problem is there’s no rule on who foots the bill for rape kit testing across the country — it depends on the state and city you live in.
According to “NC may have more untested rape kits now than any state. Advocates want answers.” News and Observer, 3/7/18,
“California and Florida currently are reported as having more than 13,000 untested kits.”
Looks like NC has a sordid history with not bothering to test them. According to the same N&O article on untested rape kits,
Many North Carolinians learned that there are 15,160 untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ (SAECK) left in North Carolina on February 28, 2018. These kits, also known as ‘rape kits’ were inventoried as part of the 2017 state budget, thanks to a bill that was spearheaded by the executive director of a Rape Crisis center in Cumberland County, Deanna Gerdes. Prior to the inventory, no one knew how many untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ there were across NC. Gerdes worked with Lt. John Somerindyke, Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victims Unit commander, who discovered the problem in the first place and leads a unit to solve these crimes. Other key supporters were bill sponsor state Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland; Roberta Waddle, a long time officer of Fayetteville NOW and NC NOW; and Gerdes’ daughter, Kathryn. Attorney General Josh Stein announced the count on 2/28/18, and has great recommendations going forward what to do. NC is finally making progress on untested rape kits, thanks these heroes in Fayetteville.
Deanna Gerdes at Podium, SBA Celebration with Fayetteville NOW. Photo Credit: Gailya Paliga
Gerdes and Somerindyke have talked about their journeys to getting this bill written and passed at a few events with NC NOW and the Fayetteville NOW chapters in the past 6 months. On Feb 22, 2018, the Fayetteville chapter of the National Organization for Women held their 18th annual Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Birthday Celebration, where they honored Gerdes and Somerindyke for their work on the passage of this bill. Some of their journey is captured in “Fighting for statewide sexual assault survivor justice: Gerdes and Somerindyke honored at Fayetteville NOW event,” which was the cover story in the 2/6/18 issues of Up and Coming Weekly, a community paper in Fayetteville. Gerdes and Somerindyke also did a workshop at NC NOW’s state conference last October on grassroots work to pass the auditing of the Sexual Assault kits. More about their workshop and the conference at “Mobilizing Women NOW – Totally Worth It! Summary.”
This 18th annual Susan B. Anthony event will honor Deanne Gerdes, Executive Director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County RCCC, and Lt. John Somerindyke, of Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit. Gerdes and Somerindyke are being thanked for all they have done to further the progress of cold rape cases by initiating coordinating efforts with local legislators relative to untested rape kits.
Sexual Assault Kit from display at 2017 NC NOW Conference Photo Credit: Catherine Evangelista
Date: Thursday, Feb 22, 2018
Place: VFW Post 6018, 116 Chance St., Fayetteville NC
Registration: Use this form, which you can see below.
Fayetteville’s local weekly periodical, “Up and Coming” featured an article about the event, “Fighting for statewide sexual assault survivor justice: Gerdes and Somerindyke honored at Fayetteville NOW event.”