On Steve Sisolak’s Watch, Rape Victims Ignored

 

As the kingpin of Clark County, Steve Sisolak used his position of power to dole out contracts to cronies and secure political donations. He failed to stand up for the people who needed him most.

On Steve Sisolak’s watch, Clark County’s backlog of untested rape kits grew by more than 3,000. That means more than 3,000 victims of rape didn’t get key evidence investigated. Violent criminals went free, because politicians like Steve Sisolak weren’t concerned with ensuring justice for victims.

A public records request by EndTheBacklog.org showed that 2,027 untested rape kits piled up from the time Steve Sisolak gained his position in 2009 to 2013, the last year that they provide data. Sisolak serves on the LVMPD Fiscal Affairs Committee, which is responsible for handling this issue. Attorney General Laxalt began drawing attention to the issue immediately after he took office in 2015. Despite this, Steve Sisolak allowed more than a thousand new untested rape kits to accumulate in Clark County. The Clark County lab director said that 1,100 new incoming rape kits went untested between 2015 and April of 2018 because the commission hadn’t provided the resources they needed. That leaves more than 3,000 new rape kits untested on Steve Sisolak’s watch.

It gets worse. Not only did Steve Sisolak allow the number of untested rape kits to grow, he actually voted to cut funding for counseling services for victims of sexual assault.

Every year, the Clark County Commission appropriates money for sexual assault “services and supplies.” This money is available to the district attorney and social services who use it for counseling services and medical bills for victims of sexual assault. In 2014, Steve Sisolak voted to cut that funding by $50,000.[1]

Adam Laxalt stepped up to solve this mess. It wasn’t his responsibility. It wasn’t his job. He saw the problem and stepped in to solve it. He launched a bipartisan effort to tackle the backlog of untested rape kits. That effort has resulted in thousands of kits being tested and new arrests

[1] Clark County Commission minutes, 5/19/14; Clark County Final Budget for FY15 (pg. 27), Clark County Final Budget for FY14 (pg. 28).

 

AG: 12 arrests in Nevada as most of backlogged rape kits get sent for testing

At least 12 arrests have been made so far, with 11 made in Clark County, as more than 80 percent of the state’s backlogged rape kits get sent for testing, according to the Nevada attorney general’s office.

In a statement released Thursday, Adam Laxalt’s office said 6,367 of the 7,645 untested kits had been sent for testing as of June 30.

Of those, 4,871 kits have had testing completed, with 466 DNA matches identified and 12 arrests made by local law enforcement — 11 in Clark County and one in Reno.

According to the announcement, 4,499 of the completed kits were from Southern Nevada.

The figures come as the Attorney General’s office submits a required report to the Nevada Legislature. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police expect the remaining 690 kits to be shipped for testing by April next year, the report states.

“Behind each untested sexual assault kit is a survivor–many of whom have waited decades for answers from law enforcement,” Laxalt said in a statement.

Adam Laxalt also worked with both parties in the legislature to address Clark County and other jurisdictions’ failure to test new incoming rape kits—which they had allowed to accumulate even since he had worked to provide the resources to handle the kits that went untested in the past.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt led the charge to put an end to the backlog of sexual assault kits. He has helped secure about $8 million in grant and settlement funds beginning in 2015 to tackle roughly 8,000 backlogged kits dating back as far as 30 years.

The bulk of the backlog comes from Southern Nevada, where Las Vegas police had 6,473 untested kits. – Las Vegas Review-Journal

In 2017, Laxalt worked with the legislature to pass a bill that required Clark County to test and track new incoming sexual assault kits. Laxalt also worked to secure millions in new resources to ensure that Clark County had everything they needed to address the problem.

On Steve Sisolak’s watch, thousands of rape victims were failed. We’ll never know how many violent criminals went free because of his failure to act. Adam Laxalt stepped up and has worked tirelessly to support these victims. His work has gotten results. Adam Laxalt is protecting Nevadans.

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[1] Clark County Commission minutes, 5/19/14; Clark County Final Budget for FY15 (pg. 27), Clark County Final Budget for FY14 (pg. 28).

 

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