2 women to appeal lawsuit over Houston rape kit backlog
HOUSTON (AP) — Two women will appeal a federal judge’s recent dismissal of their class-action lawsuit against Houston and the city’s officials over delays in testing rape kits.
The pair are among about 6,000 women and several hundred minors represented in the 2017 lawsuit who said they were harmed when the Houston Police Department failed to submit rape kits to a crime lab. Kits, containing DNA samplings and other evidence, that were collected in 2011 were kept in storage for years, though experts recommend testing them promptly.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore ruled last week that the lawsuit was filed too late and didn’t cite any civil rights violations to hold officials responsible. Gilmore ruled that a two-year statute of limitations had lapsed in 2013.
An attorney for one of the women, Randall Kallinen, seeks to delay the statute of limitations. He told the Houston Chronicle the women’s legal claims aren’t too late because they didn’t know about issues with their rape kits until police told them. The women are both victims of rape by serial offenders who had DNA samplings in police databases. The offenders weren’t identified until Houston paid two private labs to clear up a rape kit backlog in 2013 and 2014.
The Associated Press doesn’t usually name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The city of Houston has argued that there was no longer a rape kit backlog and the women’s legal arguments are “six years too late.”
Kallinen said delays in testing rape kits have increased and that an appeal is critical “so that other people don’t have to suffer.”