JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One out of every six women in Florida has been raped, according to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
That was the background for a City Hall event Wednesday to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an event to raise awareness of the problem and a chance for victims to thank law enforcement officials and city leaders for their growing support to end the violence.
It was also a chance to share some recent progress in using DNA analysis on a backlog of rape kits that have been sitting in evidence rooms for years. In recent weeks, two such tests have led two charges in rapes from cold cases going back to 2006.
Frederick Marshall, 50, was charged in three more sexual assaults and Mikel McClusky, 49, is facing two counts of sexual assault.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson praised the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for its help in prosecuting these new cases.
Marshall, who had previously been convicted of rape, was in jail for a felony motor vehicle offense and was set to be released in December when the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office put a detainer on him until he was charged with three sexual assaults that took place in 2008 and 2009.
Those cases were among the backlogged rape kits waiting to be reviewed. One case involved the kidnap and rape of a woman in 2008. Records say she accepted a ride from Marshall and he raped her at gunpoint in a vacant home. The other case was in 2009. Records show that that victim accepted a ride from Marshall and he took her downtown and raped her.
Marshall is no stranger to rape convictions. The Florida Department of Corrections records show he kidnapped and raped someone in 1988 and later served seven years in prison.
"Law enforcement is doing a great job," Nelson said. "FDLE is doing a great job. We successfully prosecuted two cases last year as a result of hits on the rape kit. We're working them and it's a successful endeavor."
McClusky was brought from prison last month to the Duval County jail, where he was charged with two new counts of sexual assault in a 2006 cold case. According to the arrest warrant, McClusky was driving in Arlington and picked up a woman, forced himself on her and dropped her off at a convenience store. McClusky was already serving a six-year sentence on a 2016 conviction for lewd and lascivious battery.
Despite the progress in processing rape kits, records show there are still 200,000 to 400,000 untested kits in the United States. Prosecutors say a lack of funding is the reason so many rape kits remain untested.