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 with 19 “cold-case” rapes. The OPDA unit works in
close partnership with the New Orleans Police Department, which one year earlier received its own
SAKI grant to fund the recovery, cataloguing and testing of rape kits stored in its evidence facilities.
ADA Mary Glass
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.”