February 16, 2022
Elisabeth Shepard, Communications Director
Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Project results in 70-month sentence for 2007 sexual assault
PORTLAND, Oregon – Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that yesterday, February 15, 40-year-old Ricky Harrison was sentenced to 70-months in prison for Attempted Sodomy in the First Degree.
In 2007, Audryanna Waldron was walking near Lloyd Center in Northeast Portland when she was assaulted by Harrison who was unknown to her. Waldron was 15-years old at the time. The investigation was reopened after Harrison was identified as the perpetrator due to DNA evidence obtained through a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Kit.
“Mr. Harrison claims he does not remember what he did to me. In my eyes, that is a luxury. I would give anything to not be able to remember what he did to me, “ Stated Waldron in her victim impact statement at sentencing.
“I had a choice to make. I had to choose between allowing myself to remain Mr. Harrison’s victim or stand-up and become a survivor of his actions. I chose the latter… After today I will be able to move on. I get to spend my life healing and finally being set free.” Waldron concluded.
“You cannot foster healing or build trust without acknowledgment of harm. Ms. Waldron waited fifteen painful years for her day in court. The system-wide efforts of this office and other law enforcement agencies to prioritize SAFE Kit testing means that survivors, including Ms. Waldron, can finally see justice. Today’s outcome was exactly that,” Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Tara Gardner stated.
The resolution of this case was supported by the victim. Her full victim impact statement can be found here: Waldron Victim Impact Statement.
In 2015, former Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, along with the Portland Police Bureau, Gresham Police Department, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory collaboratively initiated a project to process thousands of untested Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits in Multnomah, Marion and Lane counties. DA Mike Schmidt has continued this work under his administration.
The group quickly identified funding from the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) and worked collectively with the Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit after the City of Portland received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program.
DANY awarded the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office a total of $1,995,453 in September 2015. Using those funds, a coordinated effort involving local law enforcement and the Oregon State Police was launched to send SAFE kits, dated 2014 or older from Multnomah, Lane, and Marion counties, to a private lab in Utah for testing. Under the DANY grant, nearly 3,000 sexual assault kits from around the state were tested.
In 2018, Oregon became one of the first five states in the country to clear its backlog of Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) kits.
In Oregon, Senate Bill 1571, known as “Melissa’s Law,” was the Oregon Legislature’s response to ensuring all sexual assault kits, except for anonymous kits, are sent to the Oregon State Crime Laboratory for timely testing.
The Portland Police Bureau’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Workgroup, which was created in 2015, is comprised of victim-centered and trauma-informed members of the Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Results from the kits continue to be investigated and survivors of sexual assaults are being notified. The Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit encourages those who have had a SAFE kit collected prior to 2015 to contact the firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-823-0125.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office thanks the Portland Police Bureau’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative multidisciplinary team for their work on this case.