PALM BAY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Authorities say it might be a case of justice delayed, but not justice denied.
Police in Palm Bay have made an arrest in a rape from 2006 -- an example of a state law creating a world of difference. Police say the victim did a rape kit but eventually stopped cooperating with investigators after she told them she felt she wasn’t believed.
A group called End the Backlog pushed for Florida to pass a law back in 2015, and as the name suggests, the goal was to follow through on every single rape kit no matter how old or how strong the investigation was, unless the claim could be proven false.
Police say their suspect, an already a convicted sex offender, has just been identified in the additional assault. David Dean, 31, is now linked to a crime in September of 2006. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Dean’s DNA matches DNA in a rape kit that was performed on the victim.
The details of the victim’s story are heartbreaking and horrifying. She said she was raped in her own bed at gunpoint, and the suspect went out through the bedroom window. In another case, involving the same suspect, police say he got into the victim's house through an unlocked bathroom window.
Lori Sutherland knows an investigation can be emotionally draining. She works for the Women’s Center and her team helps rape victims in the aftermath of attack. She says this story underscores the need for vigilance on the part of victims. No matter how discouraged they might be with an investigation, Lori says stay the course.
“It takes a lot of encouragement, that’s why it’s good to be proactive and to seek out counseling and to seek out help from agencies that know what they’re talking about when it comes to these cases, and just stay in contact, don’t give up,” Sutherland said.