LAFAYETTE — Evidence from the 1981 rape of a Vermilion Parish woman was shipped to a Virginia testing facility late Tuesday to determine if its viable for DNA testing, according to a 15th Judicial District Court order.

William Williams Jr. was convicted in 1983 of the aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery of the victim.

The woman was attacked outside a Lafayette bar in 1981 and driven to Vermilion Parish where she was sexually assaulted.

Williams is serving a life sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. His case was taken on by the nonprofit group Innocence Project of New Orleans, whose attorneys challenged evidence and testimony presented in the 1983 trial.

Williams was initially granted his request for post-conviction DNA testing in January 2010.

An order for the DNA testing, filed on July 5, comes four months after the Louisiana Supreme Court denied District Attorney Mike Harson’s challenge of whether Williams’ request met the burden of evidence of innocence required by the state’s post-conviction DNA testing law.

According to court records, existing evidence in the case includes the victim’s pants, which contain seminal fluid, and the rape kit.

If the evidence is not viable for testing or if the DNA test is inconclusive, attorneys will need to negotiate the next step, which could include more extensive testing or the services of another lab, according to the court order.

A New Jersey nonprofit group, Centurion Ministries, is covering the testing expenses on Williams’ behalf.

The 15th Judicial District Court covers Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.