MADISON — Charges have been filed against nine people so far as a result of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s work to test thousands of kits containing evidence collected from sexual assault victims — including two men who’ve been charged in Milwaukee County.
Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul said in an interview Wednesday, July 31 he expects that number to increase as more tests are completed and prosecutors review evidence.
Inside Aurora Sinai Medical Center, nurses have opened thousands of sexual assault kits through the years.
“We’re taking a look at their bodies in personal and invasive ways and collecting evidence from them. It’s a very difficult process for many people to experience,” said Sharain Horn-Dalzin, Aurora’s director of healing and advocacy services.
Aurora’s Sharain Horn-Dalzin says the kits are either given to law enforcement or the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, where victims wait to hear what is found.
“I think for many women it not only gives them the hope that something may be done, but it also validates them and makes them feel they are believed,” said Horn-Dalzin.
That trust was lost when the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced thousands of kits were untested. Since then, they’ve been trying to make it right.
On Wednesday, AG Kaul announced charges were filed against two men in Milwaukee County.
In 2012, near 41st and Locust, prosecutors say Patrick Warren sexually assaulted a 26-year-old victim who “lost consciousness.” She went to Aurora Sinai for a sexual assault kit and six years later, court documents showed the DNA matched the defendant.
A similar scenario occurred at 5th and Center. A woman said Cedric Ball was “very violent” with her and forced her to have sex. That was 2014, and the DNA match didn’t show up until 2018.
All women with kits made a big difference in their cases.
For many people getting answers to the kit, especially in an unknown assault, is critical,” said Horn-Dalzin.
There were nearly 4,500 sexual assault kits designated for testing as part of an effort that began in 2016 to clear a backlog of untested kits. Of those, about 1,600 have shown DNA results warranting further investigation.
The Department of Justice has reviewed all but about 300 of those.
AG Kaul says 35 cases have been referred for charging decisions to date.
Only 101 kits have yet to be tested or are in the process.
In a news release Attorney General Kaul stated the following:
“No survivor should be denied justice because a sexual assault kit wasn’t tested or because of a failure to follow up on testing results. The Department of Justice is continuing to review cases to identify those in which further investigation or prosecution may be appropriate.
“We also must continue working to increase the number of jurisdictions that have a sexual assault response team. Multi-disciplinary teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates for survivors can help ensure that a victim-centric approach is being taken when a decision is made.”
IMPORTANT: For survivors looking for information about their kit, contact the law enforcement agency where the assault was reported, a local sexual assault service provider, or the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services at 1-800-446-6564.
For more information and data about the Wisconsin’s effort to end the backlog of sexual assault kits, go to wisaki.wi.doj.gov.
- Testing results by county: https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov/numbers/testing-results
- DNA matches by county, and matches to other states: https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov/numbers/codis-hits
- Survivor Notification: https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov/numbers/survivor-notifications