|April 9, 2018 10:35 AM
|Representative Michael H. Schlossberg
|All House members
|Rape Kits: Anonymous Reporting
|Thanks to the efforts of local law enforcement, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Department of Health, and our former colleague Representative Neuman, Pennsylvania has made great strides in reducing our rape kit backlog.
However, a recent audit of the status of the backlog by the Auditor General has revealed that our law still has one crippling flaw. While the law gives victims the right to take up to two years to make a report and preserves their rape kits for that time, it does not permit victims the right to submit the kit for testing without making a report.
This has serious consequences and real implications for victims of rape.
Currently, a victim who is too traumatized to make an immediate report to law enforcement may decide to wait and begin the process of healing first. However, that kit must sit untested for that entire time period. The bulk of untested kits remaining in Pennsylvania fall into this category. Under current law, the report and the testing are inextricably linked. While the kit goes untested, a serial rapist may be free to harm others.
Several counties have addressed this problem by creating a county protocol to give victims an additional choice. The victim may make an immediate report with all the information, they may wait and leave the kit untested and take up to two years to decide to make a report, or they may consent to the anonymous testing of the kit. Without the additional investigatory information, this anonymous testing limits the ability of law enforcement to investigate, however, it can aid in catching a serial rapist and strengthen other outstanding cases.
No victim should be offered fewer recourses based solely on county of residence Please join me in cosponsoring legislation which will create a statewide protocol for testing rape kits anonymously which will also allow the victim to claim their kit and make a full report for that same two year period.
Introduced as HB2419