NEW YORK — Evidence from up to 70,000 rape cases nationwide will get long-awaited testing for DNA evidence, financed by a New York City prosecutor.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the $35 million program Wednesday. He's pledging the money to help eliminate a backlog that has troubled authorities, victims and lawmakers.

Experts estimate hundreds of thousands of rape evidence kits remain to be tested for genetic evidence that could identify, or eliminate, a suspect. The $500-to-$1,000-per-kit cost has been major factor, despite millions in federal funding.

New York state communities will get priority in applying for the money. It comes from the DA's share of an $8.8 billion settlement with French bank BNP Paribas over allegations of violating U.S. economic sanctions.

The money also will go to auditing how big backlogs are.