• Channel 2 investigates Georgia rape kits going untested


    ATLANTA - A state lawmaker says hundreds, possibly thousands of rape kits in Georgia are going untested.
    Channel 2's Matt Belanger spoke with a rape survivor, who told Belanger collecting the evidence required by these kits is a painful experience, but it's the only chance victims have at justice.
    "Within that little bitty kit could hold a lot of answers,” survivor Susan Schuenemann said.
    Schuenemann was raped when she was 19 years old, but to this day, the person responsible hasn't been charged.
    The rape kit containing all of the physical evidence collected from her body after the crime -- was lost.
    "When I finally found out it was like a kick in the gut, it was like the wind was knocked out of me,” Schuenemann said.

    "For all too many justice has been denied and we need to fix that,” state Rep. Scott Holcomb said.

    Holcomb has introduced a bill to require the timely processing of rape kits.
    He says there is a backlog of untested rape kits in Georgia either lost or forgotten, which could number in the thousands.
    He says in most cases it's the result of a breakdown in communication between hospitals and law enforcement.
    "There is no system in place to ensure the timely processing of rape kits,” Holcomb said. 

    Holcomb's bill would require hospitals to forward kits to police within three days, and law enforcement would need to send the kits to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation -- which handles the testing -- within one month.
    "The GBI has fully agreed to be the end custodian of the kits going forward,” Holcomb said.

    Schuenemann now runs a rape crisis center in Barrow County.
    Normally, it's the policy of Channel 2 Action News not to identify victims of rape, but Schuenemann said she wanted to share her story this way because she feels so strongly about the issue.
    "They deserve the opportunity to have some answers and accountability and justice,” Schuenemann said.
    The bill would also require the GBI to issue a yearly report, which will include the number of these kits waiting to be tested.

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