Dallas PD: Sexual Assault Cold Cases Will Be Reopened Only With Victims' Involvement
While older cases are not prosecutable, a 2009 law allows law enforcement to update criminal histories to indicate their "involvement in a sexual assault offense." Per the press release:
The Dallas Police Department's Sexual Assault Cold Case Program, (SEACAP), began in 2001 and using DNA and fingerprint technology has solved 77 cases. Many survivors of this terrible crime never forget and no matter how long it has been they still want their cases solved. The Department realizes that even though offenders on older cases cannot be prosecuted due to Statute of Limitations restrictions, it is important for all concerned to have them identified.That identification will no longer happen unless victims step up themselves and tell police they want DNA analysis done on their case. Despite the inability to prosecute, updating criminal records may provide peace of mind for victims and valuable information should offenders come into contact with law enforcement in the future. (Incidentally, this is all because rapes committed before 1996 had a five-year statute of limitations, whereas that policy was eliminated in 2001.)
Survivors of assault are asked to call the Cold Case Program at 214-671-3584. The full DPD release follows:
The Dallas Police Department's Sexual Assault Cold Case Program, (SEACAP), began in 2001 and using DNA and fingerprint technology has solved 77 cases. Many survivors of this terrible crime never forget and no matter how long it has been they still want their cases solved. The Department realizes that even though offenders on older cases cannot be prosecuted due to Statute of Limitations restrictions, it is important for all concerned to have them identified.
Prior to 1996 the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault was only five years and unfortunately offenders involved in pre-1996 cases can no longer be brought to trial. In 2001, though, the Statute of Limitations for this crime was changed so that now when there is DNA evidence available for testing and comparison there is no Statute of Limitations restriction.
In 2009, a group of survivors involved in the Cold Case Program, with the assistance of State Representative Allen Vaught, State Senator John Carona, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, and the Dallas Police Department, made a proposal to the Texas legislature that a new law be enacted related to older sexual assault cases. In September 2009, that law was passed giving the state the authority to update an offender's criminal history to show that he was identified using DNA technology as a perpetrator of a sexual assault even if there was no actual conviction. As of this date, the criminal histories of thirteen offenders have been changed under this law to indicate their involvement in a sexual assault offense.
Recently the department applied for a federal grant to assist in paying for DNA analysis in older, non-prosecutable, sexual assaults, but the application was not successful. The Dallas Police Department realizes, however, that this analysis is very important to the community and survivors and will continue to pursue these cases as circumstances permit. The department invites any survivor of a still-unresolved sexual assault offense that occurred prior to 1996 to contact us. With victim involvement the department will do everything possible to solve each case. Due to budget constraints, however, the department will discontinue its procedure of analyzing older cases without the survivor's involvement. When future grant opportunities arise to assist in funding this program the Department will begin analyzing all unsolved cases.