A 22-year-old rape victim has filed a federal class action lawsuit against Harvey, Illinois, claiming that the city failed to process 200 rape kits, stalling police action on open investigations and eroding the value of crucial biological evidence.
Authorities found the unprocessed rape kits among other evidence during a 2007 raid on the Harvey police department two years after the force failed to solve any of the city's nine homicides in 2005, according to the Associated Press.
The rape victim, identified only as Jane Doe, 22, claims in the suit filed Wednesday that she was sexually assaulted in May 2007, at age 17, by an acquaintance, and reported the assault to police later that day, submitting to an interview and providing fluid samples for a rape kit, the Chicago Tribune reports. Doe claims in the suit that her rape kit was never submitted to the Illinois State Police Crime Lab by Harvey police.
In April 2011, investigators processing the seized rape kits informed Doe that the evidence she provided supports her sexual assault allegations, Fox Chicago reports. Fifty other viable rape kits that have since been tested have led to charges brought against at least 14 defendants in 21 separate cases.
The six-count lawsuit against the city and former police Chief Andrew Joshua accuses the Harvey police force of habitually discriminating against females.
"I think in some respects, it had to be intentional,” Doe's attorney Yao Dinizulu told CBS Chicago. “Because how do you not process, for over a decade, any of these rape kits?”
Dinzulu told the station he will seek a substantial financial penalty. An attorney representing Harvey claims the suit has no legal merit and contains factual inaccuracies.