DULUTH – A 46-year-old Duluth man was sentenced to 15 years of supervised probation this week in two sexual assault cases — including one that relied on evidence from a rape kit from 2005, part of the city’s recent efforts to clear its backlog of such kits.

Matthew S. McIntosh pleaded guilty this summer to first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct in a plea deal that will see him serve 16 years in prison if he violates the terms of his probation.

Both victims were at Monday’s sentencing and supported the outcome, said St. Louis County prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme.

“It’s a complicated cost-benefit analysis, in many cases, including with the McIntosh case, where we collectively decided that getting what we got — and … the absolute certainty of the terms we negotiated — outweighed the emotional cost of trial,” Stumme said. “Victims would be required to testify in these cases, and many victims naturally do not look forward to that day and have to relive one of the worst days of their life.”

In November 2018, a 49-year-old woman told police that McIntosh, her ex-husband’s friend, choked and punched her as he raped her at his home, charging documents say.

In March 2005, police say McIntosh raped a then-34-year-old woman whom he knew at her home in Duluth. McIntosh ignored repeated pleas for him to stop as he pinned and assaulted her, charges state. Charges were filed in February 2019 after investigators found a DNA match to a rape kit sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing.

When the Legislature audited the state’s backlog of sexual assault kits in 2015, it found Duluth had the largest number of untested kits — 578.

In May 2018, the Duluth Police Department said it had submitted more than 400 kits to a state laboratory for testing, and last year several Duluth agencies received a $725,000 federal grant to move from testing the kits to prosecuting cases.

“Generally the backlog of untested kits has now been removed so all the kits are tested — but now the problem is we have a pile of tested kits in cases that now need to be reinvestigated,” Stumme said. “We have two guys trying to get though dozens and dozens of cases to make determinations on whether an investigation is at an end or if there’s something there to go on.”

As of Tuesday, 25 cases have been referred to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for charging, according to the Duluth Police Department. Of those, 14 have been charged and three are pending charging decisions. Six cases have resulted in convictions.

“We do know that this is offering people closure that they otherwise didn’t have,” Police Chief Mike Tusken said. “Most importantly for our victim-survivors is that we say: We see you, we hear you, we believe you.”

Duluth still has 105 untested kits that are restricted because they need victim-survivor approval to be sent to the state lab for testing. Those who want to check on the status of their case can call the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault at 218-730-5449 or e-mail bettyskyeline@pavsa.org.