DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – CBS 11 News takes an exclusive look at North Texas men who stalk and attack women. Now, Dallas police are turning the tables and hunting down rapists who have gone unpunished.
There are roughly 4,100 rape kits that have been left sitting for years in a Dallas police warehouse – but they are finally being dusted off, and sent in for testing. It will take nearly a year and a half to accomplish the feat, but for some victims the effort means another chance at getting justice.
Carol Bart survived being attacked. “In 1984, I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted,” she said.
Bart was 24-years-old when a stranger attacked her at gunpoint. Now, 24 years after the attack, a phone call from police changed her life again. She remembers the call vividly. “We tested your kit and we have the name of the man who sexually assaulted you.”
There’s no question the information was good news, but by the time investigators identified the man it was too late to go to trial. The statute of limitations had expired. Bart said, “The law was, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. Five years have passed. He can’t be prosecuted.”
But things are different now. A new Texas law allows old cases, with DNA evidence, to go forward. There is no statue of limitations for those cases.
In addition to the change in law, Dallas police applied for and received a grant for money to test thousands of rape kits. The money means they’ll be able to go back and look at cases that are nearly 20 years old.
This could mean justice for victims, but Dallas police say a lot of the cases involve women who at the time didn’t want to press charges against their attackers. CBS 11 asked Sergeant Amy Mills if she expected things to be different if and when they contacted those same women. “I know we’ll find victims who want to go forward now,” she said.
Sergeant Mills fully expects to identify hundreds of suspects and link some of them to multiple assaults. “I have no doubt we will identify some serial rapists who have not been convicted yet.”
Even though she won’t be one of those going to court, Bart says simply being able to name her attacker has helped with her healing. “It was almost like you could close a book… just knowing who he was and knowing he had been in jail 19 years while I was raising my family.”
State law now allows cases from as far as back as September 1, 1996 to be prosecuted if there is DNA evidence. Detectives say they’ll reach out to victims if they get a DNA match.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
[display-posts category=”news,sports” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]