A federal district court has dismissed a 2017 lawsuit against Mayor Sylvester Turner, five former Houston mayors, current and former police chiefs and the Houston Forensic Science Center and its CEO over a “rape kit” testing backlog that the city’s independent crime lab eliminated in 2014.
The two women who filed the suit alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated because the testing of evidence from their 2011 sexual assaults had not been conducted in a timely fashion. The eventual testing of evidence in the both cases led to one suspect being charged with assault and the other suspect pleading guilty to assault.
But U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore dismissed the case because the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit about six years too late. The judge also found that the plaintiffs did not allege any violations of rights guaranteed by the Constitution, nor did they raise any other legal grounds to hold Houston and its current and former officials responsible.
Annise Parker, who preceded Mayor Turner, and her administration removed the city crime lab from the Houston Police Department and established the independent Houston Forensic Science Center to provide accurate and timely analysis of forensic evidence, including the sexual assault kits, and related services.
“The administration is pleased with the dismissal of the lawsuit. We recognize the importance of timely and appropriate processing of evidence and the critical role that it plays in solving crimes and prosecuting perpetrators before they can victimize others. The great work of the Forensic Center helps us carry out the central mission of protecting the safety of all Houstonians,” said Mayor Turner.