State Catching Up on Sexual Assault Kit Testing
Wisconsin is beginning to catch up on the testing of sexual assault kits dating back over a decade. Many kits were stored and forgotten about in police departments and hospitals across the state, but a new initiative is bringing them back to light.
ASTOP Prevention Educator Rhianna Zuleger says the DNA being tested can be just about anything. Zuleger says “they are collecting evidence from a victim or survivors body. So that could include something as small as underneath a fingernail or maybe swabbing the body somewhere the perpetrator had kissed them – to get their saliva.”
Zuleger adds that “there was lack of communication, there wasn’t set protocols. And there
were kits stuffed in a closet in a police department or on a shelf in a
bathroom or supply closet in a hospital. And you know, that’s not something we
want to admit that we made mistakes or that these mistakes were happening, but
it did happen and they’ve since developed the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to
kind of right those wrongs.”
She also tells us “so far we have gotten 21 kits back to the entire county, split between
the sheriff’s department and police department. With the sheriff’s department,
two of them came back with foreign DNA. But in the Fond du Lac Police
Department, the kits in their jurisdiction – none of them came back with
foreign DNA. And something important, just because a kit comes back without foreign DNA does not mean that assault didn’t happen.”
Zuleger says victims are also medically checked out for any possible physical injuries or issues that may have been caused by the assault.