A day after announcing a nearly $3 million federal National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant, Attorney General Andy Beshear said his office will transfer an additional $10,000 to the Kentucky State Police crime laboratory to continue the testing of sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) kits.
The money is the amount of interest accumulated since February from the multimillion-dollar Risperdal settlement. The Attorney General’s office alleged Johnson & Johnson dishonestly marketed its drug Risperdal to patients and the medical community in Kentucky.
In order to maximize the use of the settlement funds, Beshear’s office placed the money in interest-bearing accounts. The office provided $30,000 in accumulated interest to the lab in February.
“This latest round of funding is part of my pledge and KSP’s pledge to victims and their families that every single kit will be tested,” Beshear said. “We will not stop until each survivor gets their portion of justice.”
The total of $40,000 from settlement interest given to KSP this year by Beshear’s office will cover the cost of testing nearly 66 SAFE kits.
Upon taking office, Beshear made ending Kentucky’s backlog and providing justice for victims of sexual assault a top priority.
Beshear announced Oct. 11 that his office received the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance grant to establish an AG sexual assault cold case unit focused on investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults while providing key services to victims during the cold case process.
Additionally the grant allows the AG to fund an extra KSP cold case unit sexual assault detective and fund extra staff at the KSP crime lab to inventory and test SAFE kits, mainly “boomerang” kits – ones sent to the lab, not tested for various reasons then returned to law enforcement agencies.
In 2016, Beshear provided $4.5 million in settlement money to lawmakers to fund requested KSP crime lab upgrades and an additional $1 million from the same settlement to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in conducting victim-centered investigations and prosecuting sexual assault offenders.
Beshear’s office has held multiple state trainings on the SAFE kit backlog; launched a collaborative research project with the University of Louisville to provide accountability to address the backlog; collaborated with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs to hold the #VoiceOfJustice video contest to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus; and created a Survivors Council.