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Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) GranteeCuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office (Ohio)

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The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office has received seven SAKI awards totaling nearly $11 million in funding. Initially funded in FY2015, Cuyahoga County has used their SAKI funding to achieve many milestones and successes, including the following:

  • Completed DNA testing on nearly 5,000 sexual assault kits (SAKs), which has revealed 508 serial rapists within Cuyahoga County's SAK backlog; among those serial rapists is Nathan Ford, who has been linked to 19 SAKs. Ford has already been convicted in connection with 13 of those sexual assaults. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. (A serial rapist is anyone whose DNA profile has been detected in at least two SAKs.)
  • Indicted 168 John Does by DNA profile to date, 15 of whom have been identified post-indictment. Among the identified John Does is John Doe #1/George Young, who was linked to two SAKs, and John Doe #2/Jonas Rhodes, who was linked to seven SAKs.
  • Indicted 796 unique defendants to date, including John Does. Cuyahoga County is closing in on their 900th SAK resulting in indictment. As of August 18, 2020, 769 of the SAKs tested and investigated have resulted in criminal charges.
  • Has only 150 SAK investigations to complete, as of the previously mentioned date.

The Cuyahoga County SAKI team has continued to utilize SAKI funding to retain over a dozen key personnel and to hire new staff members. Additionally, the funding has been used to support Cuyahoga County SAK Task Force meetings, conduct thousands of investigations, pay for forensic genealogy searches on a sample of indicted John Doe cases, and provide trainings for task force members.

In FY2020, the team received an additional $1 million in SAKI funding to continue tasks from their previous SAKI awards. This latest round of funding will also be used to conduct advanced DNA testing and research methodologies to help identify and apprehend violent serial offenders.

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

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office Funding

Year Amount Purpose Area
FY2015 $1,993,741 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2016 $2,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2016 $1,000,000 Expansion of DNA Databases to Assist with Sexual Assault Investigations and Prosecutions: Collection of Lawfully Owed DNA from Convicted Offenders and Arrestee DNA Collections
FY2018 $2,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2019 $2,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2019 $1,000,000 Expansion of DNA Databases to Assist with Sexual Assault Investigations and Prosecutions: Collection of Lawfully Owed DNA from Convicted Offenders and Arrestee DNA Collections
FY2020 $1,000,000 Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults

Please direct all media inquiries to:

To learn more about the progress of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, read the following news and events.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office (Ohio) Grantee Site Representatives

News and Events

Impact of Victim Advocacy Integration on Cold Case Investigations: Lessons Learned from the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force
Misty Luminais, PhD | Rachel Lovell, PhD | Margaret McGuire Joanna Klingenstein | Angela Kavadas | Laura Overman, Case Western University, Jul 23, 2020
New research brief from Cuyahoga County, OH SAKI site .

Outcomes from Efforts to Swab Offenders Who Lawfully “Owe” DNA in Cuyahoga County
Case Western Reserve University, Jul 10, 2019
This research brief describes the results of the cleveland SAKI site collecting lawfully owed DNA.

Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force nears indictment in 800th victim's case: By the numbers
Rachel Dissell, Cleveland.com, Mar 10, 2019
As of the end of February, the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Task Force has completed 4,179 investigations, 719 defendants have been indicted, and 92.7% of the cases that made it to court resulted in a conviction.

Legacy of ‘redlining’: How 1930s Cleveland mortgage-lending maps mirror today’s poverty
Colin McEwen, The Daily, Jul 5, 2018
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University analyzed banking and lending maps of Cleveland from the 1930s and found that locations where unsubmitted SAKs were the highest are the same neighborhoods with the highest levels of lead found in the blood of children.

Fallen through the cracks:' Overdue DNA swabs link to murders, sexual assaults
Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer, May 13, 2018
A project to collect swabs of DNA from more than 500 Cuyahoga County probationers whose DNA was not in the state database has led to 21 hits to crimes so far, including 2 murders and seven sexual assaults.

Collaborative Partnerships in the Testing of Unsubmitted SAKS
Dan Clark and Rachel Lovell, The Police Chief, Mar 23, 2018
Through funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, law enforcement agencies across the country can form collaborative working relations with local academic institutions. This article highlights the productive law enforcement-academic collaboration in Cuyahoga County, Ohio as well as findings from their current research.

SAKI Makes Forensic Magazine Headlines
Forensic Magazine, Jan 16, 2018
As 2018 ushers in another year of coordinated sexual assault response for SAKI grantees, Forensic Magazine reflected on SAKI's legacy to test all unsubmitted sexual assault kits and pursue prosecutions in Cuyahoga County (OH), Memphis (TN), and Phoenix (AZ). SAKI Director and Senior Forensic Policy Advisor at the Office of Justice Programs, Dr. Angela Williamson, was interviewed as part of the magazine's "Rape Kits in America" series. Read all 3 parts for a full picture of today's challenges and successes.

$2 million federal grant to help Cleveland police test older rape kits, support victims
Rachel Dissell, Cleveland.com, Oct 5, 2017
A grand jury recently indicted Nathan Ford for a 2003 rape after testing previously unsubmitted SAKs. Ford has already been convicted of 3 other rapes based on earlier batches of rape kits sent for testing.

New cases linked to man convicted of raping dozens of women
Jack Shea, FOX 8 Cleveland, Sep 20, 2017
A grand jury recently indicted Nathan Ford for a 2003 rape after testing previously unsubmitted SAKs. Ford has already been convicted of 3 other rapes based on earlier batches of rape kits sent for testing.

With 600th rape kit indictment, Prosecutor Michael O'Malley reflects on two ways to stop serial crimes
Rachel Dissell, Cleveland.com, Jul 25, 2017
Thanks to the testing of backlogged rape kits by Cuyahoga County, a decade old crime can now move forward toward prosecution. The prosecutors also have high hopes for a county-led effort that will use an online interface to share investigative information between law enforcement and prosecution. To learn more, read the full article.

'Missed opportunities' provide lessons for better rape investigations and prosecutions
Rachel Dissell, Cleveland.com, Feb 10, 2017
Researchers in the Begun Research Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University are working with the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task force to draw important lessons learned from prosecuting cold cases that did not make it to court. To learn more about their key findings read the full story.

Familial-DNA testing used for first time in Ohio in suspected serial-abductor case: Q&A
Adam Ferrise, Cleveland.com, Dec 5, 2016
Familial DNA testing, used for the first time in Ohio, helped law enforcement to identify and arrest a man accused of serial rape and abduction. Familial DNA can help identify possible male relatives by matching the Y chromosomes, which can, in turn, provide law enforcement with a relative of a criminal suspect. Although police cannot arrest someone based on familial DNA evidence alone, they can use it to retrieve much needed clues. To learn more, read the full article.

It's official: testing rape kits prevents assault and saves everybody millions
Janet Burns, Forbes, Sep 14, 2016
Research out of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio suggests that testing rape kits can actually save the public money. Not only have the results of testing convicted over 520 defendants so far, but research suggests that sexual assaults prevented by testing the backlogged rape kits will “save the county’s would-be victims an estimated $48.3 million, or $200,000 each, in pain and suffering, medical expenditures, earnings lost due to injury, and decreased quality of life. Less the approximately $9.6 million cost of testing Cuyahoga County’s passed-over kits, the team says, the Northeast Ohio area would already net a savings of $38.7 million, not to mention an estimated 1,290 indictments and 947 convictions.” To learn more, read the full article.

Department of Justice awards $2 million to Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force
Cuyahoga County Office of the Prosecutor, Sep 10, 2016

Rape kit data yield major implications for sexual assault investigations
Case Western Reserve University, Phys.org, Jun 6, 2016
Read about how the Cuyahoga Sexual Assault Kit Task Force partnered with researchers from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University. While the Cuyahoga Task Force tested nearly 5,000 sexual assault kits and convicted more than 250 offenders, researchers studied those cases to educate communities about the criminal history of rapists and the serial nature of many offenders.

Ohio tests 10,000 rape kits to clear backlogs, hundreds indicted
Reuters.com, Feb 18, 2016

Ohio and Cuyahoga County get $4 million to test rape kits and put attackers behind bars
cleveland.com, Sep 11, 2015

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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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