Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit box

The Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University is partnering with the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force on an action research project to examine untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Cuyahoga County.  The Task Force is currently following up via investigation and prosecution on the DNA testing of nearly 5,000 previously untested kits from 1993 through 2009. View an overview of the project.

Research Team: Rachel Lovell (Principal Investigator), Daniel J. Flannery (Co-Principal Investigator), Misty LuminaisDuoduo (Jeff) HuangMaggie McGuireJoanna KlingensteinLaura T. Overman

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Publications and Media



Lovell, R., Luminais, M., Flannery, D.J., Bell, R., Kyker, B. (2018). Describing the process and quantifying the outcomes of the Cuyahoga County sexual assault kit initiative. Journal of Criminal Justice (57), pp 106-115.

Lovell, R., Collins, C., McGuire, M., Overman, L., Luminais, M., and Flannery, D. (2018, July 11). Understanding Intimate Partner Sexual Assaults: Findings from Sexual Assault Kits. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma.

Lovell, R., Flannery, D., & Luminais, M. (in press).  Lessons learned:  Serial sex offenders identified from backlogged sexual assault kits (SAKs).  In Vazsonyi, A., Flannery, D., & DeLisi, M. (Eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression (2nd ed.).  New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Lovell, R., Singer, Me., Flannery, D., and Luminais, M. (2018, March 29). Testing Unsubmitted Rape Kits Saves Money. End the Backlog Blog.

Clark, D. and Lovell, R. Collaborative Partnerships and the DNA Testing of Unsubmitted SAKs. The Police Chief (Official Publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police).

In the Media

11 rapes, 4 states, 1 suspect: The ‘extraordinarily improbable’ defense of Calvin Kelly. Lansing State Journal (MI), January 2019. Reprinted by USA Today and a number of local newspapers nationwide including the Indianapolis Star (IN), Asbury Park Press (NJ), Pensacola News Journal (FL), Fort Myers News-Press (FL), Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN), Cincinnati Enquirer (OH), Rapids Daily Tribune (WI), Journal News (NY), and Burlington Free Press (VT).

Thousands of rape kits remain untested across the country. WMBF News, South Carolina; December 2018.

Backlogged Rape Test Kits Produce Several Leads. Associated Press via US News, November 2018. Reprinted by a number of local newspapers nationwide including the Beaumont Enterprise (TX), Myrtle Beach Sun (SC), Laredo Morning Times (TX), Bradenton Herald (FL), Centre Daily Times (PA), Sun Herald (MS), Beaufort Gazette (SC), and Midland Reporter-Telegram (TX).

‘Yes means yes’: How Ohio universities teach students about consent. Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 2018.

Rape Kit Investigations Vary Statewide. WCPN Sound of Ideas, October 2018.

Artist plans 456 portraits to explore environmental risk of sexual violence in Cleveland. Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 2018.

Outside Cleveland, Ohio rape kit prosecutions in older cases still rare, Plain Dealer survey reveals. Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 2018. Reprinted by a number of local Ohio newspapers including the Youngstown Vindicator, Cincinnati Enquirer, Canton Repository, Alliance Review, Newark Advocate, Mansfield News Journal, and Lancaster Eagle Gazette.

Redlining's Legacy: Crime and poverty higher in Cleveland neighborhoods that faced lending restrictions decades ago. CWRU Think Magazine, Fall 2018.

Looking backwards can tell us a whole lot about moving forward. Bureau of Justice Assistance, October 2018.

Untraceable: What you need to know about Ohio's DNA collection law. Lancaster Eagle Gazette, October 2018. Reprinted by a number of local Ohio newspapers including the Newark Advocate, Marion Star, Fremont News-Messenger, Coshocton Tribune, Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, Port Clinton News Herald, Mansfield News Journal, and Zanesville Times Recorder.

Fact-checking Mike DeWine's attack on Rich Cordray about rape kit testing. Politifact, August 2018.

Red-lined' Cleveland neighborhoods are still facing issues decades later, study shows. News 5 Cleveland, July 2018.

How repeat rapists slip by police. Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 2018.

PBSO’s $1 million rape kit test: 994 examined, no arrests. Palm Beach Post, July 2018.

Cleveland Neighborhoods 'Redlined' in the 1930s Are the Same Ones Dealing With Lead, Sexual Assault, Poverty and Poor Internet Issues Today. Cleveland Scene Magazine, July 2018.

Delays, blunders and police neglect in Wisconsin's response to rape kits. Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, June 2018.

The unacceptable cost of delaying rape kit testing. San Francisco Chronicle, May 2018.

Fallen through the cracks:' Overdue DNA swabs link to murders, sexual assaults. Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 2018.

Cleveland sex crimes, special investigative units more understaffed than patrol. Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 2018.

New research from CWRU reveals information previously known about serial rapists to be wrong. News 5 Cleveland, March 2018.

Completed testing of 13,931 rape kits signals progress, unfinished business and investigations remain. Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 2018.

Serial rapists don't necessarily have an MO. The Marion Star, February 2018.

More than 1,200 rape kits sitting idle in Pennsylvania. TRIBLive, February 2018.



Lovell, R., Luminais, M., Flannery, D.J., Overman, L., Huang, D., Walker, T., Clark, D.R. (2017). Offending patterns for serial sex offenders identified via the DNA testing of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits. Journal of Criminal Justice, 52, 68-78. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.08.002

In the Media

Untested Rape Kits His 817 Serial Predators in Detroit, Tens of Thousands More Concealed in Backlog Across U.S. Newsweek; December 2017.

Serial Predators: The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. End the Backlog Blog; October 2017.

What might we learn from the Ohio Rape Kit Survey project?: Progress ReportCleveland Plain Dealer; September 2017.

Backlog Of Untested Rape Kits On The Agenda When Lawmakers Return To State CapitolCapital Public Radio; August 2017.

Tracking Ohio’s Rape KitsIdeastream; August 2017.

Help find out what’s happened with 13,931 Ohio rape kits sent for testingCleveland Plain Dealer; July 2017.

Despite backlog of rape kits, California lawmakers aren’t requiring they be tested or talliedDaily News; July 2017.

DNA from thousands of Cuyahoga County felony arrests never taken, not in CODIS crime-solving database. Cleveland Plain Dealer; June 2017.

Mariska Hargitay testifies combating sexual assaultC-SPAN; June 2017.

Processing rape kits saves heartache and money, Cuyahoga prosecutors tell congressional task forceCleveland Plain Dealer; June 2017.

Lawmakers set to pass rape kit retention bill, but not mandatory testingThe Baltimore Sun; April 2017.

A Plea for Justice: Cuyahoga County accused rapists spend, on average, just 5.3 years behind bars. News 5 Cleveland; February 2017.

Rape Kit Research UpdateIdeastream; February 2017.

Missed opportunities’ provide lessons for better rape investigations and prosecutionsCleveland Plain Dealer; February 2017.

She was a crack fiend’ excuse less accepted as rape investigations and prosecutions improveCleveland Plain Dealer; February 2017.

No testing, no pattern. Serial rapist connected to seven assaults in DallasEnd the Backlog; January 2017.



Lovell, R., & Flannery, D. (2016, November). Testing of backlogged rape evidence leads to hundreds of convictions. The Conversation.

In the Media

Even after backlogged rape kits tested, convictions are rareCBS News; December 21, 2016

A flawed, inconsistent police response to sexual assault in MarylandBaltimore Sun; December 3, 2016

Why Testing Rape Kits Would Save Us Millions In Fight To Catch Serial RapistsElite Daily; November 29, 2016

Testing of backlogged rape evidence leads to hundreds of convictionsWFMY News 2; November 20, 2016

Testing of backlogged rape evidence leads to hundreds of convictionsThe Conversation; November 13, 2016

Stopping Rapists: Uncovering Clues from Tested KitsThink Magazine; November 1, 2016

Cuyahoga Co. rape task force gets huge boost from Department of JusticeNews 5 Cleveland; September 30, 2016

Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, Case Western researchers get $3 million for rape kit work, to collect ‘owed’ DNACleveland Plain Dealer; September 30, 2016

It’s Official: Testing Rape Kits Prevents Assault And Saves Everybody MillionsForbes; September 14, 2016

Congress Just Unanimously Passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of RightsBroadly/Vice; September 8, 2016

The U.S. Is One Step Closer to a Federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of RightsSlate; September 7, 2016

Testing Rape Kit Backlogs Saves Millions Of DollarsVocativ; September 7, 2016

This Group Is Sending a Rape Kit to Every U.S. GovernorNew York Magazine/The Cut; August 11, 2016

The Disturbing Truth: Rape Kit Study Paints New Picture of Sex OffendersSputnik News; August 6, 2016

Sound of Ideas: Rape Kit Testing & ResearchIdeastream; June 30, 2016

The cost of testing rape kits: Experts say it’s saved us $38.7 million so farCleveland Plain Dealer; June 29, 2016

Cuyahoga County Leads the Nation in Its Rape Kit Response With 500th Indicted ManCleveland Plain Dealer; June 29, 2016

Case To Analyze Ohio’s Procedures For Rape-Kit BacklogWKSU; June 28, 2016

5 misconceptions about rapeChicago Tribune; June 13, 2016

Five Myths about RapeWashington Post; June 10, 2016

Researchers Just Revealed a Startling Truth about Sexual AssaultATTN; June 10, 2016

Rape Kit Tests in Ohio Find More Than Half of Sexual Assaults Committed by Serial KillersNew York Times; June 9, 2016

Serial Rapists Are More Common Than We Knew And Testing Rape Kits Is Only Part Of The Answer to Reducing Sexual AssaultBustle; June 7, 2016

Case Western: Testing Backlogged Rape Kits Leads to 250 ConvictionsNews 5 Cleveland; June 7, 2016

What Testing 5,000 Backlogged Rape Kits Just Told Us About RapistsRefinery29; June 7, 2016

The Disturbing Thing Researchers Found When They Finally Looked at 5,000 Untested Rape KitsTeen Vogue; June 7, 2016

Serial Rapists ‘Far More Common’ Than ThoughtNewser; June 7, 2016

Serial Rapists are Far More Common Than Thought, Analysis of 5,000 ‘Forgotten and Backlogged’ Rape Kits in Ohio RevealsDaily Mail; June 7, 2016

Analysis of 5,000 Forgotten Rape Kits Reveals Unexpectedly High Number of Serial RapistsIndependent; June 7, 2016

It’s Very Likely that Brock Turner Will Commit Another Sexual AssaultWomen’s Health; June 7, 2016

Testing of Backlogged Rape Kits Yields New Insights into RapistsScience Daily; June 6, 2016

Report: Testing Old ‘Rape Kits’ Led to New Convictions, Reveals New Data about Sex PredatorsUPI; June 6, 2016

Analysis of Untested Rape Kits Reveals Serial Rapists are ‘Far More Common’ Than We ThoughtJezebel; June 6, 2016

A Great Reason to Test Old Rape Kits: Preventing Future RapesNew York Magazine; June 6, 2016

Rape Kit Data Yield Major Implications for Sexual Assault InvestigationsEurekaAlert!; June 6, 2016

Rape kit data yield major implications for sexual assault; June 6, 2016

Analysis of Untested Rape Kits Reveals Serial Rapists are ‘Far More Common’ Than We ThoughtJezebel; June 6, 2016

Serial sex assault and what might be learned from the case of Louis BelloCleveland Plain Dealer; March 15, 2016

What local research about rape kits could mean for stopping serial rapistsCleveland Plain Dealer; March 11, 2016

This New Bill Could Make A World Of Difference To Sexual Assault SurvivorsSelf; February 24, 2016

CSI Cleveland: How the City Is Curbing Sexual AssaultThe Christian Science Monitor; February 21, 2016

Why an Ohio Supreme Court case involving rape kits is drawing national attentionCleveland Plain Dealer; February 1, 2016