How, these advocates ask, will Texas do this when it has over 5,000 untested rape kits languishing on state shelves? What about when there have been as many as 18,000 incidents of rape in the state in a year?
“It would be a beautiful thing to see, but it won’t happen,” Lavinia Masters, a rape survivor and advocate for fellow survivors, said of Abbott’s promise. “It’s not realistic.”
Statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) show that as of August 2021, there were 5,298 untested sexual assault kits, including 1,716 kits in the DPS criminal lab system and 3,582 non-tested kits. subject who stay with law enforcement agencies across the state.
And that’s not counting kits that could still be untested at the 231 law enforcement agencies that did not respond to the state audit, despite being required by law.
Her rapist, finally identified by kit evidence, was already in prison, after raping two other women.
The statute of limitations had expired in his case.
A bill signed by Abbott in 2019 and designed to audit untested rape kits statewide and set strict testing requirements has been named the Lavinia Masters Act. Masters was there when he signed the bill, and she is a member of Abbott’s Sexual Assault Survivors Task Force.
Texas State Representative Victoria Neave has worked alongside Masters for years to clear the backlog of rape kits. At one point there were around 19,000 untested kits.
“Each box is not just a box on a shelf. It represents the story of a survivor. It represents an individual, a family that has been touched by it,” Neave told CNN. “He represents women who expect justice.
The state is making rape kits a priority, Neave said, and it has approved $ 50 million to help test the kits, but part of the problem is the lack of forensic investigators to deal with them, a- she declared.
Masters said she always gets angry when she thinks about her case.
“I know you don’t care about me and what happened to me,” she said of those responsible. “And so you just put me aside. And I know it’s part of my passion, and why I’m so mad at it.
Beyond the backlog, the new Texas law banning abortions after six weeks even in cases of rape and incest, infuriates Masters. She said she knew that if she had become pregnant as a result of this rape, she would not have known in time to end the pregnancy.
She should have carried and delivered the child of her rapist, at 13 years old.
“I would have to carry this baby,” Masters said. “It’s not even common sense.”
Neave voted against the new legislation, which she says will cause women to attempt unsafe abortions on themselves again without medical help.
“This legislation sets us back,” she said. “And the fear and worry that we have is that if you can’t get a doctor to do this procedure, we’ll have women doing it in a garage, or going back to the age of hangers. And that’s a concern. “
CNN’s Randi Kaye and Danelle Garcia reported from Dallas, and Theresa Waldrop reported and wrote from Atlanta.