Rape kit tracking system brings justice to survivors

Jun 6, 2018, 10:20 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2018, 1:46 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Funding of $1.25 million through House Bill 200 is sending all rape kits to be investigated. And now all victims can track progress on their kit anonymously.

This comes as encouraging news to sexual assault survivor, Madison Goade Shelton.

“Giving survivors a chance to follow their case through the system not only shows accountability, but helps to change the stigma of sexual assault,” Shelton said. “We need to stop asking survivors, ‘What they were wearing’ or ‘If they were partying too hard’. The real question is why we aren’t taking sexual assault seriously.”

Utah law enforcement officials said in a press conference Wednesday, they have asked the wrong questions in the past.

“We have asked, ‘Why didn’t you scream or fight back,’” Major Scott Stephenson with Utah’s Peace Officer Standards and Training said. “Now we want to make sure survivors feel validated instead of being re-victimized by the system.”

The survivor needs just their birthdate and the kit number to track their case’s progress.

“I am thankful for the legislation that is making tracking a reality,” Shelton said.

The number of current cases that are waiting to be tested totals 1,954, while those kits that are actively in the system makes 1,913.

These numbers are not including the more than 3,000 kits that had been sitting around for years – even decades.

Those 3,000 sexual assault kits were recently submitted to the Utah State Crime Lab.

Law enforcement officials said 85 percent of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

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Rape kit tracking system brings justice to survivors