Dallas Sexual Assault Case Backlog Dates to 1996

Dallas Police Unit
Dallas Police Unit | Image by 4kclips/Shutterstock

Faced with a considerable backlog of sexual assault cases dating as far back as 1996, Dallas authorities have made a considerable push to clear them.

A joint effort to work sexual assault cases continues within the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, which have whittled the massive backlog of 6,753 untested sexual assault kits down to 1,880 as of January 2023. These incidents were reported between 1996 and 2019, meaning that a number of victims have been left in limbo for decades.

“We owe it to our survivors, and it’s incredibly important to us. So, that’s why we really wanted to push to make sure that we are on track,” Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said, according to NBC 5 DFW.

In 2015, Dallas County became part of the Sex Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program, which administers annual grants through the Bureau of Justice Assistance to aid in putting rapists behind bars.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, it was this initiative that helped bring justice to Carrie Krejci, who was sexually assaulted in her home at gunpoint in 1985. Her attacker, a former dentist named David Thomas Hawkins, was arrested in 2021 and confessed to having raped over 30 women in the Dallas area. He is now serving four life sentences in prison.

Just last week, a Dallas County jury found another man, 61-year-old Adrian Cortes, guilty of two cold-case sexual assaults, as the DA’s office announced in a news release.

The first rape occurred in 1996 when Cortes approached a young pregnant woman on her way to the bus stop. He was wearing a ski mask and brandishing a firearm, which he threatened her with as he dragged her into a field and sexually assaulted her.

The second rape in 2001 targeted a mother as she was putting her 3-year-old son into his car seat outside their apartment complex. Threatening her with a sharp object, he forced her into the backseat of the car and drove her to another location where he raped her.

Both women had had sexual assault kits taken, which were processed thanks to the SAKI program.

However, the biological samples collected in these kits don’t always yield results in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) the evidence is run through.

“The offender’s DNA may not be in CODIS. So, it would still be an unsolved case because we still don’t know who to match that DNA profile from the kit,” explained Amy Derek, according to NBC 5. She works as the administrative chief of the DA’s Crimes Against Children and Sexual Assault Units.

“Even if we do get a match, the biggest struggle that we have in these cases is their age,” she added. “And so, you know, a lot of time is spent, one, trying to locate the survivor. And then also, if we can, even if we can locate them, having conversations with them about whether or not they want to participate. The majority of these cases involve survivors who are in what we call a highly vulnerable population.”

DPD investigators work diligently on the cases regardless, according to Derek.

In 2023, there were 753 sex crime offenses logged in Dallas, and another 26 have already been reported in 2024 as of January 23, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard. The victims of these offenses — which include rape, fondling, and sodomy — were primarily black and Hispanic women and girls.

DPD has been laboring under a significant staffing shortage, fielding only 3,000 officers even though a City analysis recommended around 4,000 to ensure public safety. This year, City officials have budgeted only $654 million for police operations, far less than the sums spent by other high-crime jurisdictions, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

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