In October 2017, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office established its SAKI Unit (Sexual Assault Kit Initiative). A three-year grant funds the unit, comprised of two veteran prosecutors, an investigator, a victim-witness counselor and an administrative assistant. The unit is dedicated solely to building viable sexual assault cases through DNA evidence contained within previously neglected rape kits.
The OPDA’s SAKI Unit received national recognition for its success, which in its first 14 months included securing indictments charging nine different defendants in 19 “cold-case” rapes. The OPDA unit works in close partnership with the New Orleans Police Department, which one year earlier received its own grant funding the recovery, cataloguing and testing of rape kits stored in its evidence facilities.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass has worked as lead prosecutor and chief of the OPDA’s SAKI Unit since its inception in October 2017. Glass brings to her work a passion for justice and a deep respect for the traumatic experiences endured by the victims of sex crimes.
“I have always as a prosecutor felt that each case file represents a survivor or that victim’s family,” Glass said. “And I have a duty to tell that story completely and thoughtfully.”
Glass, a Loyola University and Loyola Law School graduate, prosecuted more than 150 jury trials and more than 60 bench trials from 1990-96 as part of the Violent Offender Strike Force and Homicide unit under former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick. Glass clerked at the Louisiana Supreme Court for a year, then ran the domestic violence and sex crimes unit as a prosecutor in Jefferson Parish before retiring. She rejoined the OPDA’s office in 2007, prosecuting mostly murders and sex crimes cases as a member of the Violent Offender Unit and the Special Victims Unit.
Glass was the first prosecutor in the New Orleans jurisdiction to win a case based upon DNA evidence that registered a “hit” in the federal CODIS database (Combined DNA Index System). Her expertise in the burgeoning field of scientific evidence led to her becoming the CODIS and DNA evidence coordinator for the OPDA’s office, and the natural choice to head prosecutions under the SAKI grant.
“This unit affords me the chance to focus strictly on cold-case sex crimes, and the luxury to spend extra time on them in screening and indicting them, so that they are ready for my co-counsel to take over,” Glass said. “This unit means the world to me.”
- Main Office
- 619 South White Street
- New Orleans LA 70119
- (504) 822-2414