Gov. Malloy Forms Working Group to Improve the Processing of Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has formed a working group aimed at examining and limiting barriers for submitting sexual assault evidence to the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory. With the goal of helping local and state law enforcement work hand-in-hand, the working group will make recommendations to standardize and facilitate the transfer, tracking, and testing of evidence kits as well as address issues around victim notification.
"This is about doing the right thing. This working group will help provide recommendations on how the state can best and most efficiently handle these sensitive cases," said Governor Malloy. "Last year, we passed legislation that established clear timelines in handling sexual assault evidence, and we've made significant progress to test kits that went untested for years. Convening this working group will improve how we handle these kits going forward, and how all levels of government can work together to respond to victims."
"I applaud the members of the working group for lending their expertise and time to this important issue," said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. "It will strengthen partnerships among those who work in law enforcement, directly with victims, and in the court system, and it will identify where we can improve our processes. Testing these kits is critical to getting perpetrators off the streets."
The state has made substantial progress testing sexual assault kits that had previously gone untested for years. In 2013, there were over 2,000 sexual assault kits in various states of analysis, while in 2015, there were approximately just 50 such kits being tested and reviewed.
In 2015, the Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations determined that there were 879 unprocessed kits at local law enforcement departments across the state. To date, 659 of those kits have been sent to the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory for testing, with the remainder queued up to be transported.
"This a simple matter of justice that deserves our state's attention. We owe it to sexual assault survivors whose kits have languished to test each and every one," said Laura Cordes, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, who has also been appointed to serve as chair of the working group. "The Governor's working group will be key to moving these cases forward and to improving the utilization of vital evidence in sexual assault investigations."
Last year, Governor Malloy signed into law Public Act 15-207, which requires sexual assault evidence kits to be sent to the state crime lab within ten days of collection and processed within 60 days. Kits are now held for five years for victims who do not want to immediately make a report to the police and initially submit anonymous evidence kits.
Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that have completed a statewide inventory of the number of sexual assault evidence kits in police custody and established timelines for processing evidence from sex crimes.
Governor Malloy has appointed the following people to serve as members of the Governor's Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Working Group:
- Laura Cordes (Chair) - Laura Cordes is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (formerly CONNSACS). Since 1999, Laura has worked to promote policy, administrative, and legislative changes that have improved the response to victims of sexual violence throughout the health care, criminal justice, and higher education systems. She serves on a number of boards and commissions relating to this issue.
- Linda J. Cimino - Linda Cimino is the Judicial Branch Director of the Office of Victim Services (OVS). Since 2000, she has overseen the expansion and redesign of the Connecticut Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification system and the creation of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program (SAFE). Prior to her tenure at OVS, she was the Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc.
- Cathy Malloy - Cathy Malloy recently served as the Executive Director of the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford for a decade. During her tenure, she advocated for victims as well as vulnerable populations at risk of sexual assault, and ensured education was a priority. She remains active in the efforts to prevent sexual violence and improve response to victims.
- Anne Mahoney - Anne Mahoney is a Senior Assistant State's Attorney in Hartford and has served on a panel for the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities regarding campus sexual assault. Attorney Mahoney also served on the Victim's Rights Enforcement Advisory Commission.
- Keith Mello - Keith Mello is the Chief of the Milford Police Department. He also serves as the Director of the Connecticut Police Chief's Association and sits on the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.
- Barbara O'Connor - Barbara O'Connor is the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for the University of Connecticut, where she became the first female police chief at the University. Prior to her tenure at UConn, she served as the Executive Director of Public Safety at the University of Illinois. Chief O'Connor recently also served on the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
- Maureen Platt - Maureen Platt is the Waterbury State's Attorney and has been working on the issue of sexual assault for many years. She has an extensive knowledge in the area of sexual violence and its impact on victims. Attorney Platt currently serves as the Chairperson of the Commission on the Standardization in the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations.
- Carolyn Treiss - Carolyn Treiss is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Treiss has served as director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, Chief of Staff at the Office of Health Care Access, Legislative Program Manager for the Department of Social Services, and most recently as Policy Director for the Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus.
- Guy Vallaro - Guy Vallaro is the Director of the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory and a nationally renowned expert in forensic science. Dr. Vallaro's leadership has been essential in the clearing of a backlog at the state crime lab.