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Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) GranteeWisconsin Department of Justice

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In FY2015, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) received two grants totaling $4 million, which the department has used to pay for unsubmitted sexual assault kit (SAK) testing, create a multidisciplinary team to inventory and track SAKs, provide training and technical assistance, and enhance services and notifications to sexual assault victims. The Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI) takes a comprehensive, statewide approach to addressing over 6,000 unsubmitted SAKs identified through their inventory.

In FY2016, SAKI awarded the Wisconsin DOJ additional funding to provide resources to local sexual assault service providers and increase storage capacity at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory (WSCL).

In FY2017, the Wisconsin DOJ received $2 million in additional funding, which went toward continuing the WiSAKI program and testing all unsubmitted SAKs. The Wisconsin DOJ also invested the money in providing law enforcement officers, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), and victim advocates with victim-centered, trauma-informed training and began the planning process for implementing a SAK tracking system.

In FY2018, the Wisconsin DOJ received $1,033,829 in additional funding to support an Assistant Attorney General. This role provides ongoing training and technical assistance to local prosecutors, addresses issues related to collection of lawfully owed DNA, expands research resources, and supports the entry of all criteria cases into the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.

In FY2019, the Wisconsin DOJ received $1,839,118 in additional funding. The Wisconsin DOJ is using part of this funding to ensure adequate resources to assist local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in pursuing investigative leads and prosecutions linked to testing previously unsubmitted SAKs. Additionally, this money will go toward supporting collaboration between sexual assault service providers and local law enforcement to notify survivors of testing results or new developments related to their case, as well as developing and implementing a SAK tracking system.

In FY2022, Wisconsin DOJ was awarded an additional $1.5 million in SAKI funding to continue support of the DOJ's Wisconsin Cold Case Team (WICCT), which will work in partnership with the FBI to provide investigative support to local law enforcement agencies looking to solve cold case violent crimes. Specifically, funding will be utilized to retain staff on the SAKI project as well as conduct phenotyping/ancestral analysis in consultation with WICCT.

Find more information and resources from WiSAKI.

Funded in FY2015, the Wisconsin DOJ has used SAKI funding to achieve the following goals and milestones:

  • January 2016: Amended the rules for submitting evidence to the WSCL to allow for the submission of SAKs directly from a SANE program or hospital. Although law enforcement agencies remain the only entities that can submit evidence for testing, SANE programs can submit a SAK directly to the WSCL for storage. This new process gives survivors across the state the option of having evidence collected after an assault while deciding whether they want to report the crime to law enforcement. SAKs sent to the WSCL from a SANE program will be stored for up to 10 years, which is the statute of limitations for second- and third-degree sexual assault in Wisconsin. If the survivor decides they want to report to law enforcement, the SAK can be pulled from storage and tested as part of the investigation.
  • December 2016: Participated in a 2-day, interactive, scenario-based training provided through the SAKI TTA Team; participants included members from five sexual assault response teams (SARTs) from around the state, along with the Wisconsin DOJ's SAKI SART. This training was an incredible opportunity to learn about the benefits of a SART and the different roles and responsibilities of every team member.
  • March 2017: Completed a massive, statewide inventory of the unsubmitted SAKs in the possession of Wisconsin's 557 law enforcement jurisdictions, as well as all the SANE programs and hospitals conducting exams in the state. The inventory achieved 100% participation without the need to legislate or mandate participation.
  • August 2019: Commemorated the accomplishment of having Wisconsin's first SAKI case go to trial. A jury convicted the defendant on three class C felonies, three counts of second-degree sexual assault. The Assistant Attorney General who prosecuted the case had this to say: "It was really amazing to see the victim have her day in court after waiting for 8 years. The strength she showed throughout this long journey is amazing. We know that the SAKI project will have more successes to come, but even if the whole project only resulted in today's verdict, we can definitely say that every dollar, every second of time was worth it." The offender was sentenced to 25 years in prison, followed by 15 years of extended supervision.

For more information on the specific SAKI awards for this site, see the table below.

Wisconsin Department of Justice Funding

Year Amount Purpose Area
FY2015 $2,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2016 $1,108,914 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2017 $2,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2018 $1,033,829 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2019 $1,839,118 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2022 $1,500,000 Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults

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To learn more about Wisconsin DOJ's progress, read the following news and events. Explore the materials and resources available for survivors in Wisconsin at byyoursidewi.org.

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News and Events

AG Kaul Announces Launch of Statewide Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System for Victims
Wisconsin Department of Justice, May 25, 2022
"Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced the launch of Track-Kit, a statewide sexual assault kit (SAK) tracking system. Beginning today, all SAKs collected by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will be tracked in Track-Kit, an online system that allows survivors to follow the location of their kit through the testing process. “This system will empower survivors to learn about the status of their kit at any time and help prevent a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits,” said Attorney General Kaul. “The launch of a sexual assault kit tracking system in Wisconsin is another important step forward in ensuring that a victim-centered approach is being taken in sexual assault cases.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Visits Superior, Talks About Sexual Assault Prosecutor Training
FOX21, Rusty Mehlberg, May 18, 2022
“It fits into our broader efforts to strengthen Wisconsin’s response to sexual assault,” says Kaul. “One of the things that we’ve worked to do is to get justice in cases where it was denied and it shouldn’t have been.” Kaul says several initiative have been put in place to do this. It includes having every sexual assault kit tested. He points to a recent prosecution in southeast Wisconsin where DNA from one person has been connected to four sexual assault kits and charges were filed."

A Dane County judge sentenced a man whose DNA tied him to five sexual assaults between 2008 and 2014 to 10 years in prison
Ed Treleven, Wisconsin State Journal, Mar 31, 2022
"Calling him a “serial sexual predator,” a Dane County judge sentenced a man whose DNA tied him to five sexual assaults between 2008 and 2014 to 10 years in prison, atop the sentence he’s already serving for one of those rapes. Mariono L. Weaver, 51, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for the 2014 rape of a woman on Madison’s South Side, was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of extended supervision for each of two cases in which Weaver pleaded guilty in February to third-degree sexual assault. Weaver was identified as a suspect in the 2010 cases after his DNA turned up during an effort by the state Department of Justice to process a backlog of untested rape kits."

Dane County sex crime convictions latest as result of sexual assault kit testing
Tony Galli, 27 WKOW, Feb 10, 2022
A dozen years ago, Fitchburg Police personnel investigated a stranger's sexual assault of a woman, but a statewide initiative to ensure more testing of sexual assault kits led to the DNA of Mariono Weaver, 51. Weaver's already serving a prison term for a 2014 Dane County sex crime. Weaver Monday entered guilty pleas to the October 2010 Fitchburg sexual assault and a 2010 sexual assault in the Town of Madison. Weaver will be sentenced March 30.

Advocates hopeful newly signed laws will prevent future backlogs of sexual assault kits
Chris Mueller, Post Crescent, Dec 9, 2021
Two pieces of legislation signed into law this week give sexual assault survivors greater access to information and clear expectations about how evidence will be handled in their cases, advocates say.

Milwaukee man charged with sex assault after backlogged kit tested
Fox 6 News, Nov 18, 2021
A Milwaukee man has been charged with sexual assault that occurred in 2008 after a victim’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), Attorney General Josh Kaul announced on Thursday, Nov. 18.

WCASA and Joyful Heart Foundation Applaud Passage of Sexual Assault Kit Reform Bills
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Nov 11, 2021
Wisconsin representatives have passed SB71 and SB94—two bills that together will vastly increase transparency around sexual assault kit handling and storage. SB71 and SB94, would now mandate delivery of rape kits to the appropriate testing labs and establish a statewide rape kit tracking system, respectively.

Madison man charged with sexual assault after matching DNA found in 2 rape kits
Logan Rude, Chanel 3000, Oct 21, 2021
A Madison man was charged Wednesday with sexual assault after his DNA matched with DNA from another rape kit.

Verona man charged with sexual assault after backlogged kit is tested
Molly DeVore, Wisconsin State Journal, Oct 3, 2021
A man was charged Sept. 23 with the sexual assault of a child under 16 in June 2008, according to the DOJ. A sexual assault nurse examination was conducted after the alleged assault. According to the DOJ, DNA collected in the kit matched Garza.

Sixth conviction and sentencing made as a result of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative
Advocate Staff, Aug 24, 2021
Man entered a guilty plea to Third Degree Sexual Assault on August 9 and was sentenced on August 19. The victim’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) in 2018. This is the sixth conviction and sentencing to result from SAKI.

Charges Filed in Kenosha County for Serial Sex Assaults Uncovered by Backlogged Sexual Assault Kits
Wisconsin Department of Justice, May 20, 2021
Attorney General Josh Kaul and Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley are today announcing charges have been filed in a case involving multiple previously backlogged sexual assaults evidence kits. “This case shows why it’s critical for public safety that every sexual assault kit is sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Labs. Thank you to the multi-disciplinary team at DOJ that has carefully reviewed cold cases to get justice for survivors and to DA Graveley for prosecuting this case,” said Attorney General Kaul.

Serial Sex Offender Convicted of Sexual Assault After Backlogged Kit is Tested
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Feb 9, 2021
Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that a serial sex offender has been convicted of sexual assault after a victim’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI).

AG Kaul & WCASA Promote Sexual Assault Service Providers in Rural Wisconsin
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Aug 19, 2020
“Particularly during this challenging time, connecting with survivors is so important. Too often, survivors of sexual abuse don’t know where they can access support. These billboards across the state let survivors know there are people out there who will be by their side,” said Pennie Meyers, Executive Director of WCASA.

Minocqua Man Sentenced for Child Sexual Assault After Testing of Backlogged Sexual Assault Kits
Wisconsin Department of Justice, EIN Press Wire, Jul 2, 2020
Testing of previously unsubmitted SAK led to conviction and sentencing (25 years) of man in Wisconsin.

Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault of a Child After Backlogged Kit Tested
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Jun 9, 2020
Man sentenced to 25 years in prison as part of the Wisconsin SAKI project.

New data released from Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative
NBC 15, Feb 20, 2020
As of February 20, 2020 Wiscon DOJ's SAKI initiative has tested 4,472 sexual assault kits, added 1,038 sexual assault kits to CODIS, reviewed 1,406 cases, referred 40 cases for a charging decision, and total of 12 criminal cases have been filed.

Man Found Guilty of Sexual Assault of a Child After Backlogged Kit Tested
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Feb 4, 2020
Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that Rock County Judge Karl R. Hanson accepted Jason A. Smith’s Guilty by No Contest plea for two counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault of a Child that occurred in July of 2000. The victim’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) in 2018. This is the fourth conviction to result from the testing of backlogged sexual assault kits in Wisconsin.

Testing of backlogged sexual assault kits results in another conviction
Addy Bink, WeAreGreenbay.com, Dec 5, 2019
According to the Department of Justice, Brandon Darnick of Minocqua has been found guilty of First Degree Child Sex Assault – Sexual Contact with a Person Under Age 13 for an assault that occurred in 2013 based on testing a previously unsubmitted sexual assault kit.

25 years in prison for man connected to 2012 child sex assault by rape kit
Fox 11, Fox 11 News, Dec 2, 2019
Man convicted to 25 years in prison for 2012 sexual assault in Wisconsin.

FIRST ALERT INVESTIGATION: DNA match cracks rape case before time runs out
Sarah Thomsen, 2 First Alert, Nov 21, 2019
A Green Bay woman is getting justice more than a decade after she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. Brown County prosecutors have charged a man they say is responsible for the attack. The clock had been ticking on this case. The statute of limitations was about to run out.

Wisconsin AG: Testing complete for sexual assault kits, state awarded $1.8M to fund continued testing
Fox 6 News, Nov 20, 2019
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced on Wednesday, Nov. 20 that testing is complete for all sexual assault kits designated for testing in the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI).

CONVICTED RAPIST COULD FACE TRIAL NEXT WEEK ON ADDITIONAL CHARGES
Austin Montgomery, Beloit Daily News, Nov 1, 2019
A convicted rapist currently serving time for two sexual assaults from October of 2000 is facing charges from another sexual assault from July 2000 based on DNA evidence.

First Conviction Issued After Testing of Backlogged Sexual Assault Kits
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Aug 29, 2019
A jury in Waupaca County convicted Leroy R. Whittenberger of three counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault, class C Felonies, for the assault of a teenage victim that occurred in July 2012

AG Kaul Announces New Data from the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Screen reader support enabled.
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Jul 31, 2019
For survivors looking for information about their kit, contact the law enforcement agency where the assault was reported, a local sexual assault service provider, or the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services at 1-800-446-6564.

Test of 2012 rape kit leads to sexual assault charges for Portage County man
Natalie Brophy, Seven Points Journal, Jul 10, 2019
Prosecutors charged a Plover man Monday with sexual assault after DNA from a previously untested rape kit matched his.

Legislation to Prevent Future Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Kits Introduced with Bipartisan Support
Wisconsin Department of Justice, May 20, 2019
Legislation designed to prevent a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits has been introduced as Assembly Bill 214 and Senate Bill 200 with bipartisan support from 49 legislators in Wisconsin. This bill gives the survivor options and mandates their sexual assault kit be stored for up to 10 years.

AG Kaul Announces Progress in Effort to End Backlog of Sexual Assault Kits
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Apr 12, 2019
Wisconsin Attorney General announces that of the 4,160 tested sexual assault kits, 998 kits have been added to CODIS, 600 cases have been reviewed by DOJ, and in 5 cases charges have been filed.

The By Your Side Campaign wins a Gold Addy Award!
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Feb 18, 2019
The By Your Side Campaign funded by Wisconsin SAKI won a Gold Addy Award at the American Advertising Federation Madison ceremony. The By Your Side Campaign is a survivor outreach campaign for Wisconsin SAKI.

Kentucky man suspected in 11-year-old sexual assault case in Tomah
Steve Rundio, The Tomah Journal, Dec 6, 2018
A suspect is announced in an 11-year-old cold case sexual assault after DNA from a previously unsubmitted sexual assault kit is matched to his using a DNA database.

Arbor Vitae man charged with child sexual assault following tests on 2013 sexual assault kit
Lane Kimble, NEws Watch 12, Dec 3, 2018
DNA evidence from a previously unsubmitted sexual assault kit leads to an arrest in a case from 2013.

Trial date set for man charged in decades-old sexual assault
Fox 11 News, Nov 5, 2018
Trial date is set for the first suspect charged in Wisconsin due to the testing of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits through the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

DOJ completes review of sexual assault kit tests
Teymour Tomsyck, Channel 3000, Oct 18, 2018
The Wisconsin DOJ has received $1 million SAKI grant to continue their Wisconsin SAKI program. The additional funding will help the WiSAKI program train local prosecutors, compile information from the kits, and support additional analysis of the kits.

AG Schimel Announces Testing Completed on Sexual Assault Kits
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Sep 10, 2018
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has completed testing on all sexual assault kits initially inventoried and designated for testing as part of Wisconsin’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

AG Schimel Holds Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team Meeting
Wisconsin Department of Justice, Aug 21, 2018
During a recent Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) meeting, Attorney General Brad Schimel appointed a new co-chair and 16 new members. The SART evaluates the response to sexual assault at the city, county, and state level and makes recommendations to improve the response to sexual assault.

Rape kit leads to new charges
Austin Montgomery, Beloit Daily News, Jun 15, 2018
Testing resulting from Wisconsin's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative leads to charges in a case from 2000. The man charged is a serial sexual offender.

As state clears sex assault kit backlog, teams work to empower victims
Sarah Thomsen, WBAY, May 29, 2018
The Wisconsin DOJ announced the last batch of previously unsubmitted SAKs in the state has been sent for testing and will be completed by the end of 2018.

Rape kit testing leads to charges against Marion man in assault
Alison Dirr and Keegan Kyle, Post Crescent, Apr 25, 2018
A Marion man has been charged with sexual assault after the testing of previously unsubmitted SAKs in Wisconsin. This is the second prosecution stemming from the testing of previously unsubmitted SAKs by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

DOJ to Clear Sexual Assault Testing Backlog by End of 2018
usnews.com, Nov 2, 2017
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that the Department of Justice will process all previously submitted sexual assault kits by the end of 2018 with the assistance of federal funding provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

Testing could begin next week on 247 Green Bay rape kits
Doug Schneider, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Jun 2, 2017
Green Bay Police received good news when they were told they could begin sending their backlogged rape kits to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory in Madison, WI for testing. To learn more about the backlog in Wisconsin and what the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant funding is doing to remediate the issue, read the full article.

SAKI TTA Webinar - Conducting a Large-Scale, Multi-Jurisdictional Inventory
SAKI TTA, Mar 21, 2017
Join SAKI TTA for an upcoming webinar focusing on the Wisconsin Department of Justice's comprehensive statewide inventory of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits. This webinar will discuss the inventory steps the project team took and what they learned throughout the process. This webinar will also touch on how their methodology could be applied to other states conducting similar efforts.

WI DOJ Launches Program To Address Backlog Of Untested Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
Laurel White, Wisconsin Public Radio, Jan 30, 2017
A new initiative by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and a sexual assault prevention group aims to decrease the backlog of sexual assault evidence kits in the state. The initiative, called “By Your Side,” reaches out to survivors of sexual assault who have had kits collected and provides connections to support services. Read the full story or visit www.byyoursidewi.org to learn more.

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Our Mission

Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases. Through this program, funding is provided to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.

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