TOPEKA — A new Kansas law will require the review of all sexual assault kits in a timely fashion, ensuring no tests languish on the shelf as they have previously.
House Bill 2228, signed into law Friday by Gov. Laura Kelly, requires these tests to be analyzed within 30 days of collecting the evidence and increase the time the Kansas Bureau of Investigation would keep all unreported sexual assault kits from five years to 20 years. The bill also authorizes law enforcement to collect evidence at child advocacy centers, where child victims may feel safer and more comfortable.
“Survivors of sexual assault deserve peace of mind and assurance that the justice system is working diligently to prosecute their abuser,” Kelly said. “The delays they’ve faced are unacceptable. This commonsense legislation accelerates justice and enforcement of crime victims’ rights.”
The law passed through the House and Senate without opposition.
Currently, if a survivor chooses not to report the assault, the test is stored for up to five years because they may later choose to report it. That timeframe was put in place to match the statute of limitation on reporting which no longer exists.
National recommendations now suggest keeping the kits for 20 years, which would mirror the updated statute of limitations in Kansas. Since 2015, KBI has received 1,038 anonymous tests, of which only 115 people later decided to report sexual assault.
“House Bill 2228 is a good first step to ensuring the wheels of justice are turning and all victims are better served,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa. “This legislation creates structure and accountability for making sure sexual assault victims receive the justice they deserve.”
Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, said she also is pushing for the Senate to hold interim meetings covering the statute of limitations on victims of childhood sexual assault.
“Kansans knew that it was unacceptable that rape kit testing delays left sexual assault victims feeling overlooked for months and even years,” Baumgardner said. “I believe this legislation gives victims the necessary assurance that a critical tool for attaining justice will be processed without delays.”
Kelly signed a half-dozen other bills into law, including a measure creating a statutory framework that supporters say will encourage technology-enabled fiduciary financial institutions to set up business in Kansas.
Legislation backed this year and last by the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly has fallen under the scrutiny of Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who called for the suspension of the operations of the Dallas-based company Beneficient and that all TEFFI-related legislation be repealed.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters
Resources for survivors
If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.
Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
- Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
- After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
- talking to an advocate,
- going to the hospital,
- making a police report,
- and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
- On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
- Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Students can make an appointment by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 785-864-9255. It’s free, confidential and voluntary to talk with the CARE Coordinator. All genders welcome. Read more here.
- Find more KU campus resources at this link. Specific information about sexual assault exams can be found here.
- Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance. (Note: CARE Sisters provide peer support and education, but this is not a 24/7 service like others listed here.)
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
- Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
- Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
- National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.
Want more state news? See our Kansas News page at this link. You can read Associated Press coverage of Kansas stories and more online here.
The Lawrence Times reposts many, but not all, stories from the Kansas Reflector. Read more of their coverage here. We also frequently repost stories from the Kansas News Service. Read more of their coverage here.