Sexual assault victims speak at Austin City Council in hopes to get more funding for closed DNA lab
A free for all for sexual predators, that's how some advocates describe the City of Austin right now. This as the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab is shut down.
The lab was shut down in June because it wasn't up to proper standards. City Council in the next couple weeks will be talking about two budget amendments that would help re-open and properly staff the DNA lab. The lab was already behind on processing sexual assault kits, so now thousands of kits are just sitting, waiting to be processed. “My sense of safety and security were ripped away from me as a man slammed my head against a parking garage wall and proceeded to rape me,” one of the victims said speaking to council. “It's been hard for many of us to take the next step in our healing process without seeing our court cases all the way through the judicial system.”
Thursday was the last time Council would hear public testimony before adopting next year's budget. Kelly White is the CEO of Safe Alliance, “It's incomprehensible that it's even a question. Don't you expect if you are raped and you have a forensic exam that that's going to be tested and used as evidence, that's an expectation,” she said.
White said having the lab shut down is not only bad for victims waiting for their results; it's a free for all for sexual predators. “It's been open season, we've essentially said it's open season, you’re a sexual predator, come play, we are stopping that, we are ending that now,” she said. An end victims said is now in the hands of the city council. “I wake up every morning and think today is going to be the day that I get a call from my detective and that I get to move forward in this process, and so I am just asking you to please help me get that phone call.”
City Council members are expected to adopt a budget plan on September 12th.