SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It was an emotional screening of the documentary “I Am Evidence” inside the Lucas Theatre on Monday night during the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. The documentary exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors.
Many in the audience were in shock after hearing several first-hand accounts of rape survivors and their journey to justice in the United States.
So far in 2017, there have been 159 rapes reported to the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire, but only 16 arrests have been made leading to just 10 convictions. The film shines a light on an ugly truth felt here and around the nation.
Trish Adlesic is the co-director for “I Am Evidence” and said, “A lot of these cases have been serial in nature so when we don’t test, it’s a public safety issue. And we want people to be safe.
She said she hopes the film raises awareness.
“So we have to treat every case equally. That there is something that occurred here, we’re going to investigate it like we would any other crime and not to judge it. You know you’d never ask a robbery victim, why were you wearing that necklace?”
Sitting next to Adlesic during her Q&A after the movie’s screening, was Georgia State Representative Scott Holcomb who played a key role in passing Senate Bill 304 in 2016–to combat the more than 10,000 ape kits that sat untested across the state.
Holcomb said, “We are now in the process of testing all the backlog kits, and there’s thousands of those, but that will be done–the latest estimate I received is June 2019.
One of those kits belongs to Paige Bullard. In 2013, the 24-year-old Savannah State University student was raped on campus by Torrey Scott.
Last week, she was awarded $10 million in a civil case, and on Monday after the film screening, she and her family spoke about the system they said failed.
Bullard said, “I am a survivor of rape. The most offensive act and I will live with what happened to me for the rest of my life.
“My rape kit was on the shelf and untested and untouched for three months. In that time, Tori Scott went around innocent women.
“I want people to understand and not judge victims. I want victims to be supported and believe. I want rapists to be arrested and put in jail.”
Thousands of those kits remain untested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Representative Holcomb told WSAV, thousands of kits continue to wait to be tested at the hands of the GBI. He said the next step for legislation is to work to create a more “compassionate” protocol for law enforcement officers when revealing kit results to survivors.
Holcomb said the public needs to remember, behind every kit is a person with a name and story that deserved to be told.
For more information about “I Am Evidence,” click here.