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Montana will employ a sex assault cold case investigator



Billings, Montana – Following a successful effort to establish a sex assault task force by the Montana Department of Justice several years ago, sizable federal funding will assist Montana in testing all untested rape kits.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen of Montana will be able to combat violent crime, which he claims is still on the rise, with the aid of the $2.1 million award.

“The idea here is we can get into these kits that didn’t go anywhere, we can reopen them, we can get some justice in these cold cases, hopefully, get them hot again and bring some perpetrators to justice,” said Knudsen.

For years, kits for sexual assault were kept on the shelves of institutions that housed evidence.

However, 1,252 untested rape kits were gathered from Montanan jurisdictions by the state’s sexual assault task force, which was established in 2015.

That work significantly lessened a difficult moment for victims who were seeking justice.

“We had a backlog of sexual assault test kits that were taken but never tested,” said Knudsen.

However, there is still uncertainty for certain victims since, according to the Montana Department of Justice, about 341 kits have not been analyzed, and 2,348 kits have been partially tested, as reported by coroner’s offices, law enforcement agencies, and medical facilities.

There don’t seem to be any particularly noticeable issue regions among the more than 70 agencies of different sizes that provided the untested and partially tested kits.

However, the Montana Department of Justice has managed to collect large funds to eliminate such figures, employing a coordinator, a crime analyzer, and—for the first time—a cold case investigator who focuses just on rape cases.

Knudsen sees this as a major objective that will assist those victims in obtaining justice.

“We don’t have a cold case team here in Montana, let alone one that is going to look at sex assault cases,” he said.

According to Bradley Tucker, an agent with the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, a significant portion of the cases that local agencies handle include sexual assaults.

“Every case that comes in has to be tested,” he said. “Those kits are required to be tested within 30 days by law enforcement.”

Additionally, new laws guarantee that kits are kept intact for 75 years, which enhances victim reaction.

“That’s going to be a game-changer for us,” said Knudsen.

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