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Fox San Antonio investigates sexual assault case handling by SAPD

At one point, the sexual assault case backlog in San Antonio stood at more than 2,000.

More than 20,000 rape victims in Texas have waited decades for justice and for their rape kits to be tested.

At one point, the sexual assault case backlog in San Antonio stood at more than 2,000.

A Fox San Antonio viewer, we'll refer her to as Jane Doe, contacted us about a year ago after an officer said her alleged rape was consensual and did not send her rape kit for testing. That's when we started to investigate.

We asked the San Antonio Police Department why 42 rape cases dated prior to 2011 were not tested as of 9 months ago - which is when we initially filed an open records request for their police reports. You can view the redacted cases we've obtained thus far here.

Former state senator Wendy Davis co-authored the state law that put an end to the backlog. Those 42 cases should have been tested a long time ago, but were just cleared in August.

"These are real people who have suffered horrific crimes and they deserve justice," Davis said.

"We were going through case files after the law changed. I think we started submitting evidence sometime in 2013. That was after sorting through hundreds of thousands of files to see which cases would be eligible," Jesse Salame with the San Antonio Police Department said.

Today, the city and SAPD told us once the kits were handed to the Texas Department of Public Safety, they can't speak for why the testing took so long. DPS says the policing agencies send the remaining backlogged kits to the testing lab. SAPD argues they only had 36 rape kits that had not been tested as of last year, and not the 42 as reported by the DPS website.

Of those 36, seven were children's cases and one is a sample of DNA that had no case.

"We didn't have a case number for that offense and so we could find no data and no case to document the details of that offense," Salame said. "It may not have been from our agency, it could have been a mix up at the lab, we don't know. We don't have a case number for that particular offense."

This backlog only included rape kits or DNA that were sent to be tested by an officer. Not all rape kits or DNA collected prior to 2011 had to be tested since it was up to the discretion of the officer who had the case.

"The offender might be a known offender, it might be a family member, you might have had a situation where victim no longer wanted to proceed with charges," Salame said. "There's a bunch of reasons why it might of not been submitted. Why an investigator might not of found or submitted it to be necessary."

Davis included in Senate Bill 1636, passed in 2011, mandatory rape testing within 30 days of the evidence being collected. But what if the officer does not agree its rape and chooses not to open a case?

Jane said her incident happened October 2016.

"They told me I had no case ," Jane said. "Because I had agreed to everything that the other person had done to me."

Her police report says the date she was on was consensual and she was not raped.

Today, SAPD and the City Manager's Office say they didn't open a case because their officer consulted with a detective and didn't believe a rape had occurred. In spite of that, the rape kit was tested, but no DNA was found, according to police.

"The very important reason to test these kits is to find whether there are rapists on the street right now. Who have committed other crimes," Davis said.

It is also mandatory that victims and law enforcement be able to track where the rape kit is in that process as well as an annual audit of all of the kits in their possession.

Just last month, Detective Kenneth Valdez from the Special Victims Unit was given an indefinite suspension for not submitting evidence for testing. In his office, SAPD claims to have found five DNA samples in envelopes and folders. A total of 27 cases had evidence that had not been submitted to the crime lab for testing and was sitting in the SAPD property room.

We've asked for Jane's case to be opened after we were allowed to hear a recording between her and the detective a week after the attack where she tells the detective several times that the encounter was not all consensual.

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