DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Police Department's Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit announced charges filed against 11 people in connection with 15 sexual assault cases.
The unit is funded through a national $1 million SAKI project three-year grant. SAKI is the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative of the Department of Justice.
"Victims and their families can rest a little easier tonight knowing that the individuals who allegedly perpetrated these crimes against them are now behind bars and will soon have their day in court," said Durham Police Department Chief CJ Davis in a virtual news conference Tuesday.
Those cases go back as far as 1984.
In the news conference, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein recognized law enforcement, victims reporting the crimes and DNA as reasons for the charges.
"DNA is a powerful tool," Attorney General Stein said. "It can tie a potentially dangerous suspect to a crime or it can exonerate the innocent."
Just a few years ago, North Carolina had 15,000 untested rape kits.
Attorney General Stein said there's a capacity issue with labs only having so much capacity to handle kits at any given time. He said there is still more work to do.
"We are making excellent progress. We have entered all of those kits into our tracking system. We've secured both grant funds and a $6 million appropriation from the General Assembly to outsource those kits."
The grant also provides assistance to the Durham Crisis Response Center, which works with victims.
Attorney General Stein's office said a total of 8,218 kits are in the process of being tested/have been tested.