A deeper look at Texas’ rape kit backlog

Written by Victoria Berryhill

KVUE reporter Cori Coffin contacted me on April 4 to talk about Texas’ rape kit backlog. On May 1, we saw the full scope of her work.

I’ve been on the SAFE communications team since 2015. I like to think I can parse out what a reporter wants from an interview. And I thought I understood what Cori meant by “really digging in, finding out what is going on.”

Boy, was I wrong.

Covering the state’s rape kit pileup

In this article, Cori took the word comprehensive to a whole different level. She gave Austin what it needed: a breakdown on what has transpired concerning sexual assault forensic evidence.

She took a comprehensive approach to outlining the situation in our state, did an absolutely incredible job, and asked the tough questions.

A rape victim feels lucky. Because her kit was tested. Because it wasn’t lost.”

There are memorable quotes, graphics, stats, and gut-wrenching stories of survivors brave enough to advocate for justice for thousands of survivors – thousands in Austin alone. Survivors who won’t see that same justice until their kit is tested.

How could the state could abandon citizens when they needed it most?

The public deserved an answer to that question. So Cori spent months doing the hard work of digging, asking and re-asking questions, and sifting through piles of jargon.

In the process, Cori overcame every kind of road block one could come across. The results of her work will make a difference for all survivors.

What it means to Austin

“Every single kit that’s sitting on a shelf is a person” —Kristen Lenau, SAFE Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team

SAFE has worked hard to resolve the rape kit backlog. But as the months went by and setbacks piled up with respect to our city’s troubled DNA lab, it was easy to become cynical about finding a solution.

Cori’s KVUE article tells us that Austin cares. An outsider to the situation was willing to put in months of time and energy to research this injustice. In the course of her digging, she had personal conversations with dozens of individuals across the spectrum of the cycle of a sexual assault.

Cori helped keep this injustice top of mind for decision makers. She made it a priority for everyone involved.

Staff members and supporters of SAFE devoted countless hours trying to help survivors of sexual assault receive justice. The months that SAFE staff devoted to working on this issue were pivotal. But isn’t it nice to know our community is standing behind our work?

I think so.

Please join me in telling @CoriC_KVUE , and all of @KVUE , “thank you.” Thank you for excellent reporting.

#ThankYouCoriC #KeepAustinSAFE #EndtheBacklog

Check out the piece here