HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) — Months after admitting they failed to submit 94 sexual assault kits for testing, the Hollywood Police Department is saying two dozen of those kits have now been tested and resulted in 2 arrests.
However, Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez says one of the reasons many of those kits were not submitted is because there was a county policy not to test rape kits if a victim was not cooperating with authorities.
“In the past unless it was a cooperative victim, unless you had a case that was prosecutable the lab would not receive that rape kit,” Fernandez said.
Hollywood Police announced Friday that two suspected rapists – Kareem Malcolm and Lee Parrish – are off the streets. But police admit it should not have taken this long to arrest them.
Parrish is accused in a 2006 rape of a 13 year old girl. Malcolm is accused of raping a 25 year old woman in 2011. But neither victims’ rape kits were sent to the Broward sheriff’s office crime lab for analysis.
Fernandez admits in Parrish’s case – that occurred near North 25 Avenue and McKinley Street – the 13 year old was willing to testify but her rape kit still never got submitted.
“I’m not looking to go back and fix blame,” Fernandez said “I’m looking to move forward and fix the problem.”
At a Friday court hearing for Parrish, Judge John Hurley expressed surprise at the delay.
Hurley: “Why did it take until 2014 to have the dna submitted to the..”
Prosecutor: “I don’t know judge.”
Police say Kareem Malcolm was arrested in Boston earlier this month for the 2011 Hollywood rape. Detectives say he is also being investigated for the rape of a Massachusetts woman in 2013. A reporter asked Fernandez if the 2013 case could have been prevented if the earlier rape kit had been tested.
“I cannot comment on what happened in Boston,” Fernandez said. “I can’t comment on the what-if’s. But what I can do is make sure that we do it correctly moving forward.”
The revelations about Hollywood’s failure to submit or test the rape kits is disturbing to many advocates, like rape survivor Kellie Greene, who founded SOAR, Speaking Out About Rape. Greene says by not processing the rape kits investigators are ignoring the challenge rape victims endure by undergoing a sexual assault exam and they lose vital information about suspects.
“Each one of those kits represents a rapist that is out on our streets that every day could be victimizing another person,” Greene told CBS4’s Carey Codd. “It’s so very important for those kits to be processed and processed in a timely manner so that we can identify who those rapists are and hold them accountable for what they’ve done.”
Fernandez says his department has created better guidelines, has established a special victim’s unit and are submitting all rape kits regardless of whether the victim’s are cooperative.
“I just spoke to the sheriff this morning we’re working together at this to make sure the lab receives these kits in a timely manner and they do not reject it,” Fernandez said.
A Broward Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson told CBS4 News, “It’s difficult to comment on an unwritten policy that may or may not have existed 10 years ago…Without any time to research this, I can’t say for sure if these particular cases were ever submitted to the BSO crime lab prior to being discovered. The crime lab does not dictate to other agencies what evidence to submit for processing. We will continue to evaluate all rape kits that are submitted to the lab.”
I have to say that that’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard because I’ve never heard of a crime lab dictating what kits they would and would not process.
“Each one of those kits represents a rapist that is out on our streets that every day could be victimizing another person,” Greene said. “It’s so very important for those kits to be processed and processed in a timely manner so that we can identify who those rapists are and hold them accountable for what they’ve done.”
Watch Carey Codd’s report, click here.
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