PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man has been convicted of raping a woman in a park more than two decades ago because of a statewide push to conduct DNA tests on a backlog of thousands of rape kits, authorities said.
Jihad Eldeen Moore Jr., 67, was found guilty of first-degree rape and sodomy by a Portland judge on Thursday, the same day the Oregon State Police announced it had eliminated its backlog of untested kits.
The victim, now in her late 40s, requested privacy but said in a statement released by prosecutors that she never thought her rapist would be found.
"It would have been better for everyone had the kit been tested years ago. It is hard to re-live this so many years later, but justice is finally served," the statement read.
Moore's conviction is the fourth such case solved in the Portland area since the project to test the backlogged rape kits began in 2015. Another case is awaiting trial.
Using grants from the New York County District Attorney's Office and the federal government, nearly 3,000 untested rape kits from Multnomah, Lane and Marion counties were sent to a private lab in Utah for testing.
Those kits were from 2014 or earlier, said Brent Weisberg, Multnomah County district attorney spokesman.
Earlier this year, another 302 kits from 13 other Oregon counties were sent to the same lab.
Altogether, nearly 5,000 backlogged kits statewide have been tested. State lawmakers passed a law mandating that all future kits be sent to the Oregon State Police for timely testing.
In this case, prosecutors alleged at a three-day bench trial that Moore lured the victim to a secluded part of a well-known waterfront park in Portland on June 14, 1996, and attacked her after she sat down.
"His assault was immediate and brutal," Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Tara Gardner said during her closing arguments.
Moore then told the woman to turn her back to him and "walk three paces." She believed she was going to be shot as she did so, Gardner said.
The victim reported the attack to police and sought medical treatment that same day, but her rape kit would not be tested until authorities sent it to the private Utah lab using grant money.
Moore's DNA was in a database because of previous criminal convictions, and he was arrested in Portland after the victim told authorities she wanted to go ahead with a prosecution.
He faces a minimum of more than eight years in prison at his sentencing next month.