A new law takes effect next week – zeroing in on the thousands of rape kits that have gone untested in the state of Missouri.
House Bill 1355 aims to address those untested rape kits and make it easier to prosecute sexual assault crimes.
“Sometimes patients choose to come in just for evaluation for treatment, medications and that sort of thing,” says Karen Scott, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
The Freeman Sexual Assault nurse examiner helps rape victims – whether they call police or not.
“Sometimes they do opt to have evidence collected even if they’re not sure they want to report it right then,” says Karen Scott.
And now when police are called, there will be new guidelines for handling the case in Missouri.
“It would allow law enforcement from all parts of the state to do a research, database research to compare some DNA that might be found some part of the state,” says MO Rep. Charlie Davis.
The state budget sets aside about three million dollars for the project and is asking for federal funding to help pay for the project. And the bill also creates a timeline for handling a rape kit.
“Required to within 14 days to make sure law enforcement gets the rape kits or forensic kits then the law enforcement has no more than 14 days to get those forensic kits to the labs,” says Davis.
When the case isn’t prosecuted, authorities must keep the information for 30 years for potential comparison in future cases. The legislation is tied to an audit from Attorney General Josh Hawley last spring. That found about five thousand rape kits had gone untested around the state.