PIMA COUNTY — Southern Arizona agencies will receive a $2 million federal grant to help better investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases.
The grant will help the Pima County Sheriff’s Department clear its backlog of nearly 500 untested rape kits.
“Roughly half of those are currently at the DPS lab being tested,” said Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier. “We urgently need this grant to allow us to test all sexual assault kits and pursue all these investigations as they should be.”
The funding will help add two detectives to the Tucson Police Department’s sex crimes unit, and another to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. It will also allow the Pima County Attorney’s Office to add a sex crimes prosecutor, as well as additional victim advocates.
“We will bring these perpetrators out of the shadows, in order to obtain the justice that’s needed for the unsolved sexual assault case victims,” said Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.
The Tucson Police Department cleared its rape kit backlog after receiving $1 million grant three years ago. The testing helped lead to the conviction of Nathan Loebe, who raped multiple women over a span of more than a decade.
“It was horrific,” said TPD Chief Chris Magnus. “And he got a sentence that he unquestionably deserved of an amazing 274 years in prison.”