1st Conviction In Rape Kit Testing Program

posted by Brad Ford -

The first man who was charged under a program to analyze untested rape kits in Portland has been convicted.

On June 26, 2018, a 12-person jury convicted Curtis Williams of one count of rape in the first degree, two counts of sodomy in the first degree, one count of unlawful sexual penetration and three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. The jury acquitted the defendant on one count of unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree.

This investigation started on September 30, 2011 when the victim, then 19, reported she had been raped and sexually abused inside the Alder Hotel Apartments. The victim did not previously know her attacker.

Court documents state after leaving the apartment, the victim immediately reported the assault to law enforcement. In 2011, the case was assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit. The victim also underwent an extensive Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) examination. In 2016, the victim’s SAFE kit was sent to a private lab in Salt Lake City, Utah and then further analyzed by the Oregon State Police (OSP) Forensic Laboratory which yielded a DNA match to the defendant.

This was the first case in Multnomah County to go to trial associated with the Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Project and the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project (SAKI). This case was prosecuted by Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amity Girt and Deputy District Attorney Tara Garnder.

Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Project

In 2015, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, along with the Portland Police Bureau, Gresham Police Department, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory initiated a project to process thousands of untested SAFE kits in Multnomah, Marion and Lane counties.

District Attorney Underhill and others quickly identified funding from the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) and worked with the Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit after PPB received a grant from U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program.

DANY awarded the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office a total of $1,995,453 in September 2015. Using those funds, a coordinated effort involving local law enforcement and the Oregon State Police was launched to send SAFE kits, dated 2014 or older from Multnomah, Lane and Marion counties, to the private lab in Utah for testing.

In early 2018, an additional 302 SAFE kits from 13 other Oregon counties were sent to the lab using funds from the DANY grant. In total, nearly 3,000 SAFE kits from Oregon were sent to be tested. As of June 2018, only 40 kits of the nearly 3,000 remain to be tested.  

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