Portland Police have announced their first rape conviction since finally testing decades-old sex assault evidence kits.
The rape happened 12 years ago in 2006. The forensic evidence kit with DNA that victim had to spend hours completing was finally tested thanks to federal grant money.
The DNA came back with a hit on a man already in jail in Wisconsin. 41-year-old Jose Rosales has been convicted of two counts of sex abuse in the second degree. He was sentenced to 7 months in jail with credit for time served in Multnomah County while waiting through the justice process, and will have to register as a sex offender.
"It feels good to get justice for the victim," said Portland Police Sgt. Chris Lindsey with the sex crimes unit. "It feels good that this process is working and we are correcting things from our past, and it feels like we have a lot of positive coming in the future."
This week has been busy for Sgt. Lindsey. He says quite a few DNA matches have come in identifying suspects in decades old sex crimes cases.
"If we do get a match, we reach out to the victim and let them know what has been discovered and then we ask them what they would like to do. We are a victim-centered team and we only take a case forward if a victim wishes to do so."
Portland Police admit, up until 2015 they had a dismal record of testing just 39-percent of the rape evidence kits that victims provided, a 4-hour process often just as traumatizing as the initial crime. The other 61-percent sat on a shelf, never sent to a crime lab.
There are many reasons rape kits aren't tested at departments around the country. A victim completes a rape kit, but doesn't file a police report. They file a police report, but then won't cooperate with the investigation. Maybe the suspect's identity is already known. Or the investigator or district attorney decides, no crime was committed.
In 2016 Congress approved millions of dollars to zero-out the national rape kit backlog. The Portland Police Bureau was awarded $2 million of that, and now all 1,700 of their backlogged kits, some going back to 1985, are at a private lab in Utah being tested. The results are coming in every day.
Now police practices have changed. Every kit will be tested from now on. "No more kits are sitting on shelves, we are 100-percent at full submission," said Sgt. Lindsey. "If it's an anonymous kit we will not submit it unless the victim comes forward later and asks us to."
Police say since the #metoo movement started, they've gotten an increase in reports of sex crimes. They say that's good, because normally only a third of victims report attacks. Every morning Sgt. Lindsey says his team shows up to work and finds ten new reports.