HOUSTON (AP) — A class action lawsuit has been filed against current and former Houston officials alleging that a delay in testing thousands of rape kits allowed accused perpetrators to remain free and denied justice for victims.

The class action represents about 6,000 women and several hundred minors who say in a complaint filed Sunday in U.S. district court in Houston that they were harmed when the Houston Police Department failed to submit their rape to a crime lab.

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rape kit (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Kits the department submitted for testing starting in 2011 had languished in police storage for years.

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Experts say testing kits promptly and comparing them to federal DNA databases for hits is crucial because as many as half of all sex offenders are serial rapists.

The suit seeks unspecified compensation and a jury trial.

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