Fayetteville police destroy 333 sexual assault kits as part of ‘poor procedure’

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – The Fayetteville Police Department said it did not break any laws when it destroyed 333 sexual assault kits but it was “poor procedure.”

In February, the Department’s Special Victims Unit commander began to review old sexual assault reports from as far back as the 1990s. The review was conducted to see if a Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit was needed to be formed.

In June, it was discovered some sexual assault kits from closed out cases had been destroyed while others had been retained, the police department said.

At this point, Chief Harold Medlock said an audit needed to be conducted to count remaining kits in the evidence room.

That audit showed 333 sexual assault kits collected between 1995 and 2008 were destroyed.

Fayetteville police said those destroyed kits were from closed out cases.

The kits were destroyed to free up room in the evidence room, police said.

No laws were broken, according to Fayetteville police, but the Department said destroying the kits was “poor procedure.”

The Department said it is “committed to preventing this from occurring again.”

Kits collected by the Department after December 17, 2008, are currently accounted for, the Department said.

A tracking system is being implemented that will eventually tag all 1,006 kits.

Fayetteville police said it has been awarded the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant by the Department of Justice.

Part of this funding will assist with DNA testing of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits, the Department said.

The newly formed Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit is reviewing hundreds of old sexual assault cases dating back to the 1980s.

Arrests are expected to be made as a result of the review.

Anyone with information concerning a sexual assault case more than five years old is asked to contact Detective J. Benazzi with the Fayetteville Police Department at (910) 257-3668 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). You can also submit information to Crimestoppers by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet or by text-a-tip on your mobile device by sending a message to 274637 (in the text box type “4Tip” followed by your message).

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