New HBO documentary about national rape kit backlog shows in Lexington

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ ) – HBO has a new documentary that sheds light on the national problem of untested sexual assault evidence kits.

It’s called I Am Evidence.

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Lexington hosted a special showing of the film Thursday night.

In 2015, a statewide audit revealed Kentucky had more than three thousand untested rape kits.

The state is just one of many struggling with a backlog, and that’s exactly what I Am Evidence shows.

Michelle Kuiper is a sexual assault survivor from Louisville. She says it happened in 1994, by someone later called the “U of L Rapist.”

He was caught 17 years later, in 2011.

“He actually matched three kits in Kentucky,” said Kuiper.

Because of that, Kuiper sees the importance of testing the kits.

“Not every person is a rapist, but every rapist is a serial,” said Kuiper. “They repeat, they do it again. So, certain laws wouldn’t have saved me, but they would have saved the other two women that it happened to later.”

Kuiper is one of many survivors in HBO’s documentary.

Thursday’s screening wasn’t open to the public or to media, but after the screening, the people inside got to ask questions to a group of panelists. It’s something that Kuiper says needs to happen more often.

“With asking questions, then it promotes conversation,” said Kuiper. ‘That’s really what this is about. To promote conversation, and hoping that we can get more people in the community to understand what these crimes really are.”

The U.S. Department of Justice just gave Kentucky around $3 million to test every kit that hasn’t been.

Kuiper says she’s glad to see people fighting for justice.

“This should be a priority,” said Kuiper. “A lot of people will talk about how much money it costs, but you know really what’s the priority? The priority is having safer communities.”

For her, sharing her story is liberating.

“It feels like you’re taking your power back,” said Kuiper. “It feels like you’re able to hopefully help some other survivors.”