February 9, 2022
Elisabeth Shepard, Communications Director
DA Mike Schmidt administration provides testimony on legislation to help ensure justice for victims of sexual assault
PORTLAND, Oregon – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office (MCDA) Policy Director Aaron Knott provided testimony in the Oregon State Senate Committee on Judiciary on SB 1574-1. The bill would close a loophole in Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Kit record-keeping to help ensure that when medical records associated with sexual assault are shared with law enforcement as evidence, they include all relevant information to inform investigations and future prosecution.
“Victims of sexual assault should be afforded absolute confidence that when they seek services in the aftermath of what is often one of the worst moments of their lives, that all necessary processes are in place to ensure that those services contribute to their healing. That includes providing the full evidentiary means to hold their perpetrators accountable,” MCDA Policy Director Aaron Knott stated.
Victims of sexual assault typically interact with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) when seeking care after an assault. These practitioners utilize SAFE Kits to collect forensic evidence of assault, which are then shared with law enforcement as evidence. However, notes taken by SANE in the process of administering SAFE Kits are not required to be retained or shared with law enforcement as a component of the SAFE Kit. These notes can contain critical information to establish the full facts of an examination for prosecution.
“This loophole diminishes the ability of the prosecution to move forward on a case with all competent evidence, which in turn reduces the ability of a victim of sexual assault to pursue justice.” MCDA Policy Director Knott stated.
SB 1574-1 closes this loophole by clarifying that notes prepared by SANE as part of their evaluation be retained as part of the SAFE kit and subjected to the same 60-year retention period. The bill has no impact on a victim’s ability to report a sexual assault anonymously. Victims of sexual assault determine what parts of the medical-forensic exam they consent to and determine what is released to law enforcement.
SB 1574-1 has received its first public hearing and remains under consideration in the Oregon State Senate Committee on Judiciary. View full hearing by clicking here.