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Bristol County rape kit testing initiative results in 2nd cold case arrest

An effort by a Massachusetts district attorney to clear a backlog of more than 1,100 untested rape kits in his jurisdiction has led to an arrest in a second cold case, he said Tuesday.

Dylan Ponte, 28, of New Bedford, is charged with rape and indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 in connection with an assault on a 16-year-old girl in July 2012, Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn said in a statement.

“Victims who have been sexually assaulted have gone through a very traumatic experience and have a right to have these kits fully tested, especially when an assailant cannot be identified,” he said.

Ponte pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $1,000. A message was left with his attorney.

The victim, suspect and others had been drinking near a city elementary school, authorities said. The girl said she blacked out for several hours and when she woke up she thought she had been assaulted so she went to the hospital and called police.

The victim submitted to a rape kit, but it was never fully tested by the state lab, Quinn said. The entire backlog of untested kits are now being fully tested at a private lab with the help of a federal grant.

The suspect was linked to the case in May through DNA he had submitted to a national database as the result of a misdemeanor domestic battery conviction in Florida, Quinn said.

The victim “expressed immense gratitude and relief,” the DA's office said.

Quinn's office in May announced the arrest of a 47-year-old man in connection with a 2010 sexual assault in New Bedford.

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