FILE - Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

The state of Wisconsin has tested thousands of old sexual assault kits from across the state. But the state's Attorney General says his office has spoken with less than 100 survivors about the results. 

Attorney General Josh Kaul on Wednesday released an update on the effort to test thousands of old sexual assault kits that lingered in the state crime lab and police departments for years. 

Kaul says out of the 6,837 old kits, 4,471 can be tested. Kaul says his office, local law enforcement agencies, and the state crime lab have tested 1,323 of those kits. 

“The Department of Justice is continuing to review cases to identify those in which further investigation or prosecution may be appropriate," Kaul said.

Of the 1,323 cases, 1,016 were uploaded into the national DNA database, known as CODIS. Kaul said 513 of those cases came back with a CODIS hit. 

Of the sexual assault kits that were tested and came back with a hit, 35 cases were referred back to local prosecutors, the attorney general said. District attorneys in Dane, Portage, Oneida, Rock, Waupaca, Winnebago, and Milwaukee counties filed charges in nine cases based off the old DNA evidence. 

But of the thousand-plus cases that have been tested, and the hundreds of cases that have come back with a DNA profile in the national database, Kaul's office has notified just 82 survivors of the new evidence in their case. 

“No survivor should be denied justice because a sexual assault kit wasn’t tested or because of a failure to follow up on testing results,” Kaul said.  

Kaul explained there are reasons why his office did not notify all victims. 

"Reasons provided by a multi-disciplinary team or local law enforcement for not notifying survivors include sexual assault kit testing was inconclusive, not identifying a suspect," Kaul wrote in a statement about the testing update. "The case related to the sexual assault kit was already prosecuted or there is already a warrant issued but the suspect has not been located. The case is currently not proceeding to prosecution because the DNA testing provided no new information or investigative leads. The survivor connected with the sexual assault kit chose not to report to law enforcement. And notification might not be safe or appropriate at this time depending on survivor or dynamics of the case."

The attorney general said he'd like to see more done for survivors. 

“We also must continue working to increase the number of jurisdictions that have a sexual assault response team. Multi-disciplinary teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates for survivors can help ensure that a victim-centric approach is being taken when a decision is made," Kaul added.

The Attorney General's office says victims looking for information about their kit should contact the law enforcement agency where the assault was reported, a local sexual assault service provider, or the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services at 1-800-446-6564.

Staff Writer

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.