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Proposed Bill Would Create Database for Sexual Assault Kits

KBIA/file photo

Currently, Missouri has no way of keeping track of processed sexual assault collection kits. A proposed bill hopes to fix that.

During a hearing Monday afternoon, members of the public spoke in favor of a bill that would create an online system that uploads and stores information on sexual assault kits.

Right now, a survivor of rape would possibly not have the ability to know where that kit is. Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, the bill’s sponsor, cited Attorney General Josh Hawley’s proposed statewide audit to determine just how many rape kits are untested in the state of Missouri.

“Missouri is in the minority of states, that has never done an audit of untested sexual assault evidence kits. Many states require audits, Missouri does not,” Riddle said.

She stated that this potential system could be used to assist Hawley’s investigation. According to Riddle, the Attorney General’s office already provides forms for hospitals and law enforcement agencies to use, when filling out a request for reimbursement for these kits. Riddle states that this bill would update that form to a live, updating system. Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, who serves on the committee, commended the bill, stating that it’s normally tough to get a straight answer on just how many kits remain untested.

“You kind of don’t know who to believe. You talk to one agency, they would say ‘We’ve knocked it out of the park.’ You talk to another agency they’ll say ‘Well, that agency is sitting on a ton of them’ and it just, it shouldn’t be a lot to ask to process these things,” Sifton said.

Daniel Hartman, a supporter of the bill and legislative director of the Attorney General’s office, stated that the test rape survivors take is traumatic and invasive, and they should know where that kit is.

While Riddle did not address exactly where the funding would come from, she later stated that it is early in the process and the money necessary for the system might be found in the budget.

Sarah Kellogg is a first year graduate student at the University of Missouri studying public affairs reporting. She spent her undergraduate days as a radio/television major and reported for KBIA. In addition to reporting shifts, Sarah also hosted KBIA’s weekly education show Exam, was an afternoon newscaster and worked on the True/False podcast. Growing up, Sarah listened to episodes of Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! with her parents during long car rides. It’s safe to say she was destined to end up in public radio.