GIST: "A former Houston woman is suing the City of Houston and a long list of current and former mayors and police chiefs for failing to investigate a backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits, and not identifying her attacker as a man who had been in a national police database for decades.  In one of several cases brought by victims against officials around the country in recent years, the victim of a 2011 sexual assault in Houston claims in a federal civil rights lawsuit this week that her perpetrator could have been apprehended and prosecuted for earlier crimes if officials had kept on top of the massive backlog of DNA samples in the city's possession. DeJenay Beckwith, 35, who now lives in Milam County, contends city officials failed to pursue a serial offender in her case, or investigate rape kits for other victims, because they don't take women or child victims seriously. She is seeking damages, saying city officials violated her rights to due process and equal protection, and officials illegally took her property and violated her personal privacy and dignity under the Fourth Amendment. At a recent town hall meeting, Rep. Buddy Carter said he would only test the backlogged rape kits in Georgia if they were not from sanctuary cities, Jezebel reports. The class action status, if upheld by a judge, could presumably extend to other women or child victims whose rape kits were left untested during the backlog at the crime lab managed by the Houston Police Department, a topic the Houston Chronicle has reported on. "To not test the rape kits of a serial rapist who also raped children is beyond unconscionable," said Beckwith's lead attorney Randall Kallinen. "It didn't take them long once they knew who he was." Mayor Sylvester Turner's spokesman, Alan Bernstein, referred a request for comment to the city's crime lab. Peter Stout, CEO and president of the Houston Forensic Science Center, among more than a dozen officials named as defendants in the suit, declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. However, Stout said in a statement that the lab is "keenly aware" of how vital it is to process sexual assault evidence in a timely fashion, noting that untested rape kits are a nationwide problem. "Since taking over management of the Houston Police Department's forensic operations in 2014, HFSC has eliminated legacy and incoming backlogs of sexual assault evidence," he said. "A legacy backlog inherited from HPD that dated back to the 1980s has been eliminated. HFSC's goal is to have a sustainable, average 30-day turnaround time for all evidence, including that which is related to sexual assault." He noted that the lab recently hosted a symposium on testing and tracking sexual assault evidence promptly featuring state Rep. Donna Howard, former state Sen. Wendy Davis and participants from Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit working toward ending the national rape kit backlog. Joyful Heart cites Texas on its website as once having nearly 19,000 untested rape kits, more than any other state, although the foundation notes the state has passed comprehensive reform efforts. As of Aug. 31 of this year, data maintained as a result of Texas law reports there are 2,138 untested kits submitted by 161 Texas law agencies. Houston tackled the backlog of rape kits in early 2013 under former Mayor Annise Parker and ex-Chief Charles McClelland, drawing on $4 million in federal grants to outsource DNA testing with private forensic labs. Parker led the initiative to remove the crime lab from HPD management in April 2014 - although it remains in the HPD headquarters building - after the creation of an independent city-funded lab now overseen by civilian forensic experts. According to court documents, Beckwith met her assailant on April 2, 2011, when he pretended to be a mechanic and offered to fix her broken down car. He asked to come inside her Southwest Houston home for a glass of water. According to the lawsuit, he proceeded to throw her to the floor, strike her repeatedly and rape her. She chased him on foot, and a neighbor joined the chase, but he escaped in his car. A rape kit taken at Memorial Hermann Southwest as a result of her police report was taken to the city's crime lab. Beckwith's lawyers say the kit went untested for five years. During that time, she got one phone call from a detective who wanted to know what she was doing wandering on Bissonnet when she met her assailant, implying she was a prostitute and saying, "These things happen." The detective discouraged her from filing a report, telling her it was unlikely the suspect would be caught, according to the lawsuit. She next heard from Houston police in 2016, when they contacted her to say they tested the DNA and they had a suspect. She later learned the man's name was David Lee Cooper. Cooper had prior sexual assault convictions, including one from 2002 involving minor child. His DNA had been in the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS and managed by the FBI, since 1991. Cooper also had convictions for burglary, theft, DWI and attempted kidnapping. Cooper was charged with rape in 1991 but the case was dismissed, according to the lawsuit. In 1994, he was found not guilty in another rape, but her lawsuit claims the facts of that case were similar to what happened with Beckwith in 2011 and during an attempted kidnapping in 2005. On December 14, 2016, Cooper pleaded guilty to a 2002 sexual assault of a child, a 2009 sexual assault and the 2011 sexual assault of Beckwith. The federal lawsuit claims that if Houston officials had tested Beckwith's and other victims' rape kit evidence in their possession and entered it into CODIS, Cooper could have been apprehended before he could rape and sexually assault Beckwith. Under former Mayor Annise Parker and ex-Chief  Charles McClelland, the crime lab was moved from the police department in April 2014 to an independent city lab. The lawsuit was brought against Turner and his police chief Art Acevedo, but it also names five former mayors going back to Kathy Whitmire and six former police chiefs."