JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For Attorney Gen. Eric Schmitt, tackling the thousands of untested rape kits in the state is a way to “honor the courage” of victims who reported the heinous crimes.
Schmitt and Gov. Mike Parson were on hand for an event at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon as part of the state’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The two Missouri leaders reiterated their commitment to reducing crime in the state and ensuring the rights of victims are protected.
Schmitt’s office, in particular, has made tackling the more than 5,000 untested rape kits in the state — as well as creating a statewide protocol for how they are handled — a priority for his tenure. With federal grant money, Schmitt said his office is first focused on collecting an “inventory” of the untested kits before creating a tracking system and ultimately testing the kits. He also picked Judge M. Keithley Williams to lead the SAFE Kit Initiative.
“I think it’s just really important for us to honor the courage of the victims who have come forward to make sure those kits don’t sit on a shelf somewhere.”
“I think it’s just really important for us to honor the courage of the victims who have come forward to make sure those kits don’t sit on a shelf somewhere,” Schmitt said in an interview with The Missouri Times.
Sexual assault victims “need to know that law enforcement, including the attorney general prosecutors, are going to go after the people who have victimized them, who have caused great physical and emotional pain,” Schmitt said. “I want them to know there’s an attorney general who is very committed to this effort and in making sure we are bringing people to justice.”
Parson said he was “proud” of the changes that have occurred in Missouri when it comes to the rights of victims.
“In Missouri, we continue to strive to improve how our criminal justice system treats and supports crime victims,” Parson said in a statement.
Parson had declared April 7-13 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the state. The theme for Wednesday’s event was “Honoring our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.