Travis County officials: APD rape kits not compromised by mold discovered in April

Travis County commissioners  received a briefing on the mold found on APD rape kits in April at a July 6 meeting.

Travis County commissioners received a briefing on the mold found on APD rape kits in April at a July 6 meeting.

Travis County officials' say their minds are at ease concerning rape kits found with mold on the exterior by the Austin Police Department in April.

On Mon., July 3, Gregg Cox, director of operations for the Travis County District Attorney's Office, said he and his staff took a tour of the department's warehouse.

“The outcome of this visit was to cause us not to be alarmed anymore,” Cox said. “The boxes are not actively growing mold."

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt Judge Sara Eckhardt addressed the public today about the county's concerns regarding the mold found on APD rape kits in April.[/caption]

A report submitted to Austin City Council June 27 by Ray Arellano, assistant city manager, stated APD inspected 1,629 sexual assault kits at the facility and found mold on 849 of them. Most of those boxes were from the 1990s and early 2000s and were unlikely to be prosecuted, said Gregg Cox during today's Travis County Commissioners Court meeting.

Commissioners raised a number of concerns with the issue.

Judge Sarah Eckhardt expressed her concern over the two-month lag between when police discovered the mold and when they informed the DNA stakeholders, especially since meetings between both parties are held every Wednesday. She also worried about how contaminated evidence could affect the outcome of cases going forward.

The county works in partnership with about a dozen different law enforcement agencies, Eckhardt said. Out of all of those agencies, about 80 percent of the cases tried in Travis County come from the APD and those cases rely on the evidence stored at the APD facility.

“Our job is to make sure justice is being served,” Eckhardt said. “Without both sides of evidence that is hard to do.”

Cox said no evidence, thus far, has been compromised as a result of the mold. APD has taken steps to remedy the issue with the installation of a new dehumidifier and has resealed the refrigerator to control humidity.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission is also aware of the issue and has requested additional information from the APD. An update from the APD will be given at the commission's Aug. 18 meeting.


Tacodeli co-owners Roberto Espinosa and Eric Wilkerson opened their first location in 1999. The seventh location for the local chain in Austin will open this summer in Circle C. (Courtesy Tacodeli)
Tacodeli to open a Circle C location this summer

The new location will be the seventh in Austin for the locally based chain, which first opened in 1999.

Photo of a girl weariing a mask and backpack
Austin ISD: mask policy to remain after new CDC guidance

The district said it would continue to require masks at least through the end of the current school year.

The city of Austin's Smart Mobility Office has partnered with Ford on self-driving vehicle initiatives. (Courtesy Ford Motor Company)
Austin's transportation department paving the way for rise in autonomous vehicle traffic

Several private companies are working on autonomous vehicle initiatives in Austin in addition to the city's own smart infrastructure planning.

Goodfolks plans to open in late July to early August. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
New restaurant coming to Georgetown; new Hutto community to have nearly 1K lots and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

COVID-19 precautions such as a masking requirement remain in place at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
'Signs of hope' on the horizon at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after year-plus dip in air travel

Rising passenger counts, new airline operations and an increase in vaccinations could all support the airport's recovery in 2021.

Capital Metro bus
Capital Metro announces increased transit services for Austin FC games this season

Capital Metro has increased the frequency of several bus routes for Austin FC game days at Q2 Stadium.

CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Students at Norman-Sims Elementary School and Austin ISD's 124 other schools across the district will now be allowed to remove masks during outdoor physical activities with the permission of a parent or guardian. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD makes outdoor masking optional, eases other health, safety restrictions

Students engaging in outdoor physical activity will now have the option to remove masks.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.