Updated: March 21, 2013 6:49AM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said 51 sexual assault kits that went untested in the Robbins Police Department, dating to 1986, are being sent to Illinois State Police for further investigation.
“The victims should know they will have their cases heard, and they will be treated like they should have been treated,” Dart said at a Tuesday evening news conference. “My goal is to bring justice to these folks.”
Dart said the kits were found several weeks ago in the Robbins police evidence room, along with a barrel of about 55 guns that were never sent to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace their original ownership.
Because of the village’s lack of funds, sheriff’s police have been assisting Robbins police in recent weeks with patrols and open homicide cases, which led to the discovery of the rape kits and guns, Dart said.
He said there was no acceptable reason why the rape kits weren’t sent for testing.
“The (rape kit) process is incredibly difficult and traumatic for a woman to go through, and it’s rare someone would go through with it and not want to pursue a criminal case,” the sheriff said, adding that the rape kits in Robbins were well-preserved and found on a shelf in the evidence room.
Robbins police Cmdr. Christian Daigre said the new police department administration reorganized the evidence room under interim Police Chief Jerome Guinn. Former Police Chief Johnny Holmes resigned in December after he was charged with drunken driving for the second time in three years.
“The previous administration didn’t account for these items (kits and guns) as well as they could have,” Daigre said. “Historically, (the evidence room) has not been maintained as well as it should have. Going forward, it will absolutely be.”
Leila Ward, a Robbins resident, said she was “astounded” by the news of the rape kits not being turned over to state police.
“I’m very angry the citizens didn’t know about it,” Ward said. “Our response needs to be, ‘who was responsible?’”
In 2007, authorities made a similar discovery in Harvey when about 200 untested kits were found in a raid on the police department. Sheriff’s police, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and Illinois State Police conducted that raid to confiscate evidence in many unsolved murders, and follow-up testing of the rape kits led to numerous charges.