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Arizona expert says DNA databases are helping to catch serial rapists

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — DNA databases are helping to catch serial rapists, according to the co-CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.

“One of the problems that emerged when sexual assault kits were not being submitted is that it disabled us from being able to identify and recognize that many of these perpetrators were not just perpetrating one time but were committing sexual assault against multiple victims in different jurisdictions and sometimes in other states,” Tasha Menaker told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

Menaker said oftentimes both victims and law enforcement know who a perpetrator is in a case, but what they don’t know is who else that person assaulted.

“Now that we are entering that DNA into databases and testing all these kits, we’re seeing that these people are actually perpetrating against multiple people,” she said.

Menaker said it’s important that law enforcement and judges take victims seriously when they come forward to report.

“We got in this situation with so many kits untested because law enforcement was not submitting kits to the crime lab, and sometimes the reason that was happening is because they weren’t believing survivors,” she said.

“And so if law enforcement had submitted those kits, we could have prevented other sexual assaults from happening.”

Menaker said Arizona is one of the few states that doesn’t allocate any resources to sexual assault survivors.

“It’s just important for Arizona as a state to invest in services so that people can engage in a process of healing,” she said.

“Compared to other states nationally, we’re a little bit behind the curve in terms of what we’re doing to make sure that survivors have options for support and healing.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report. 

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