On Monday, July 13, I was thrilled to watch the governor sign Senate Bill 569 into law. During the 2020 legislative session, I was proud to sponsor this legislation concerning the processing of sexual assault forensic evidence kits (SAFE) kits in Missouri. I filed this legislation to shine a light on the more than 6,800 untested sexual assault kits in our state, streamline the process for testing these important kits and help bring justice for thousands of victims and survivors.
Senate Bill 569 establishes a secure, electronic tracking system for SAFE kits. From my perspective, this legislation strengthens investigations and prosecution of rapists and sexual abusers by reforming the handling, tracking and processing of SAFE kits in Missouri.
In addition to the SAFE kit tracking reforms, Senate Bill 812 was added to SB 569. This language establishes the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which provides rights and protections for survivors of sexual assault during any medical examination or interaction with law enforcement, the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney. While we all certainly hope no one ever has to be in this situation, I am grateful this bill of rights has been created to ensure each survivor is treated equitably and knows their rights throughout the entire process.
Senate Bill 951 was also added to SB 569. This language establishes the Justice for Survivors Act, which directs the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide telehealth network to provide forensic exams for victims of sexual assault. Not every hospital is going to have a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) or other similarly trained medical provider on staff, so it is important to ensure these survivors has timely access to medical professionals who are trained to perform a forensic exam.
I am hopeful my legislation puts an end to the grievous harm that has been inflicted on too many sexual assault victims and survivors in our state. Survivors will no longer have to suffer in silence. They will finally have the resources and support needed to find closure.
This is about justice and closure for survivors. I believe too many rapists – possibly even serial rapists – and other sexual offenders are walking the streets today because of our state’s failure to establish an efficient system to test and investigate SAFE kits. Senate Bill 569 demonstrates our state’s commitment to justice, and it shows that we will do everything we can to support victims of sexual assault by giving them the rights and protections they deserve. I am grateful for the governor’s support in helping sexual assault victims and survivors in our state seek justice and find closure.
As always, it is an honor and privilege serving you in the Missouri General Assembly. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or ideas to improve our state government. Thank you for reading my Capitol Report and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you soon.