Hundreds of possible rape victims in New York City may have to relive their horrific experiences.
The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is under fire for mishandling several rape cases. The office is “reviewing and retesting” more than 800 cases from over a 10-year period and so far, 26 of those cases have come back showing that critical DNA evidence went undetected. It was also discovered that another 19 cases had evidence placed in the wrong rape kits.
All the cases were handled by the same technician. The medical examiners office decided to review every case handled by the technician after she made numerous mistakes during training for a job promotion. The technician was initially demoted after the mistakes were discovered and eventually resigned in 2011.
The former lab technician, identified as Serrita Mitchell by the New York Times, denies that the mistakes were her fault. Mitchell also says she was never told about the mistakes. “It couldn’t be me because your work gets checked,” she told the newspaper. “You have supervisors.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn understands the magnitude of the situation, stating, "The mishandling of rape cases is making double victims of women who have already suffered an indescribably horrific event. We cannot allow these women to wonder if their attacker remains free or to go one more day without knowing justice was served in their case." Following the review results, Quinn has decided to set an "emergency oversight hearing" for January 22.
The medical examiner’s office insures that no one has been falsely convicted because of the mistakes.
So far, one person may have received vindication albeit 10 years after the facts. One of the retested cases has resulted in a Brooklyn man’s indictment on rape charges.