State bill will fund rape kits for sexual assault survivors

State bill is victory for sexual assault survivors
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 8:52 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A new state bill is a victory for sexual assault victims. House Bill 674 will stop them from being billed for a rape kit and require DNA testing from anyone found guilty of a sexual assault or those found not guilty by reason of insanity.

WITN talked to supporters who say the bill will bring hope to people going through one of the worst experiences of their lives.

“This bill is providing options, and that’s the most important thing for our clients because we want them to know that they’re not stuck with one outcome alone. They have choices they can make, and that is something that can’t be taken away from them,” Christina Richard, Onslow Women’s Center executive director said.

House Bill 674 was signed into law late last week.

It ensures that victims of sexual assault don’t have to pay for a forensic exam after an assault. Richard said the testing of a rape kit alone can cost around $1,400.

“They’ve already been victimized. We don’t want to further victimize them by having this unexpected bill,” Richard said.

The legislation also requires a DNA sample from anyone convicted of sexual assault or found not guilty by reason of insanity.

“It’s a huge step forward in the right direction because that could possibly solve crimes that have already been committed and it could also help with preventing future crimes as well,” Richard said.

Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said the bill could allow investigators to make stronger cases against perpetrators and find links between two cases that before seemed unrelated.

Richard said it will make for a safer community for everyone.

“Oftentimes, it’s not isolated to just one incident. Oftentimes, it’s a situation where there have been multiple victims,” Richard said.

North Carolina, like many states, is still seriously backlogged on rape kit testing. The state had the highest percentage of untested kits in the country in 2018.

State leaders have since allocated millions to address that issue, bringing the number of untested kits to about 11,000, down from 16,000.

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