Natasha Alexenko Exposes the Rape Kit Backlog on The Takeaway

“Rape kits are being shelved and left unprocessed for years…in the worst case scenarios kits are being destroyed by police.” reports Kristen Meinzer. Many thanks to The Takeaway for also featuring the amazingly brave Helena Lazaro to discuss her case and her difficult journey to getting her kit processed.

This article is a great introductory piece for those who are foreign to the issue of the rape kit backlog and the Natasha’s Justice Project mission of exposing and eliminating the backlog.

Natasha Alexenko Exposes the Rape Kit Backlog on The Takeaway

“Rape kits are being shelved and left unprocessed for years…in the worst case scenarios kits are being destroyed by police.” reports Kristen Meinzer. Many thanks to The Takeaway for also featuring the amazingly brave Helena Lazaro to discuss her case and her difficult journey to getting her kit processed.

This article is a great introductory piece for those who are foreign to the issue of the rape kit backlog and the Natasha’s Justice Project mission of exposing and eliminating the backlog.

Sexual Assault Survivor Continues Crusade to End the National Rape Kit Backlog

Benefit Show for Natasha’s Justice Project Will Help Shed Light on Thousands of Pieces of Evidence that go Unprocessed Each Year

(Washington, DC / West Sayville, NY) March 20, 2012 – On April 16, Chinese Menu Comedy, in partnership with the sisters of Sigma Delta Tau at The George Washington University, will host a night of entertainment to benefit Natasha’s Justice Project (NJP). NJP was founded by Natasha Alexenko, a sexual assault survivor whose assailant was identified nearly 16 years after she was violently attacked when he was found through a DNA match. Today, Natasha and NJP are working to end the national backlog of unprocessed rape kits and bring justice to survivors of sexual assault.

“This event is about celebrating survivors of sexual assault and using the healing power of laughter to help raise awareness for an issue that continues to hide beneath a dark stigma,” said Natasha Alexenko. “While it’s a difficult issue to talk about, the silence will only keep people in the dark about the thousands of rape kits that remain untested nationwide.”

The backlog of untested rape kits exists because procedures for processing the kits are antiquated, and funding is often not available. The average cost to process a rape kit is between $800 and $1,200.

“Preliminary evidence suggests that approximately 180,000 rape kits in the United States may remain untested. This means potential evidence lingers on shelves and in warehouses throughout the nation, when it could be used to validate a victim’s claims, identify an attacker or exonerate a suspect,” Alexenko said.

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook University has partnered with NJP to definitively and scientifically establish reliable statistics on the actual number of evidence kits that have been collected but not processed in the United States. The research division will also determine the degree of awareness regarding the rape kit backlog in an effort to gain public support for the processing of all kits.

A Night of Comedy to Benefit Natasha’s Justice Project
This one-time-only event will feature comedian Erin Jackson and a performance by award-winning improv duo, ShawnMikael(s). Erin has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live at Gotham on Comedy Central, and was a featured performer on Last Comic Standing. Following the performance, there will a screening of an excerpt from HBO’s critically-acclaimed documentary, Sex Crimes Unit, which features Natasha’s story.

NJP has recently received a matching grant from the Lanza Family Foundation, in which all donations received by August 1 will be matched dollar for dollar. One hundred percent of the ticket proceeds from “A Night of Comedy” will go to Natasha’s Justice Project. Individual donations can also be made directly at https://natashasjusticeproject.org/donate/.

When: Monday, April 16, 2012
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Where: Jack Morton Auditorium at The George Washington University
School of Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC

Media Availability: Natasha Alexenko is available for phone and in-person interviews to answer questions about the national rape kit backlog. Please contact Brooke Saltzer (b_saltzer@hotmail.com, 202-427-6496) to schedule.

Tickets: To purchase tickets for this event, please visit http://comedyfornjp.eventbrite.com/.

Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate Hopes Penn State and Syracuse University Sexual Assault Cases Will Encourage Others to Report

West Sayville, NY – Natasha Alexenko, a sexual assault survivor and spokesperson for Natasha’s Justice Project is hopeful the event of sexual abuse that have come to light at Penn State University and Syracuse University will encourage more survivors to come forward and report their crimes. Ms. Alexenko reported her 1993 rape and testified in court, her perpetrator is currently imprisoned and will not be eligible for parole until 2057.

“Sexual assault is an underreported crime, often it is because of the survivor’s shame, guilt, or fear. The hope is that tragedies like those at Penn State and Syracuse will encourage others to come forward and seek justice,” said Alexenko.

Natasha Alexenko travels to colleges and universities across the United States to talk about her rape, which occurred in 1993 when she was a college student. She says she has been “seeing an increase in the dialogue surrounding this sensitive topic” on college campuses particularly after the Penn State University sexual assault scandal became public.

Do your neighboring municipalities have a rape kit backlog?

The rape kit backlog goes beyond the United States. This story from Australia details how DNA caught 24 people being charged with 33 historical sex attacks dating back as far as 1987.

It’s so important to realize the consequences of having a backlog on any level in that the issue goes far beyond your locality. Natasha’s perpetrator was apprehending in Las Vegas, Nevada but her attack occurred in New York City. Criminals can and do cross state, county, and international lines. If your municipality does not have a backlog that’s commendable but do you know about your adjacent counties or cities?

Tackling the rape kit backlog in Texas

“Two weeks after a deadline for local police departments to count their untested rape kits and report back to the state, fewer than five percent of the agencies in the state delivered their totals to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as required by a new state law.”

The Natasha’s Justice Project team has been told from our inception that the backlog numbers would be difficult to obtain. We’re often met with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that can make the process of getting information on rape kits in a particular municipality very time-consuming but we’re persevering.

What’s interesting about this article is that of the agencies that reported in Texas, which was fewer than five percent, there was a backlog of nearly 5,500 rape kits. This tragedy is very real and we’re not stopping until each kit has been tested and policy and procedures are in place to see that this problem doesn’t happen again.

See article: http://www.americanindependent.com/204455/despite-deadline-in-new-law-few-texas-police-agencies-reported-count-of-untested-rape-kits