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Attorney General Hunter, SAFE Task Force Continue Progress in Rape Kit Reform

Attorney General Hunter, SAFE Task Force Continue Progress in Rape Kit Reform

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter’s Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Task Force today marked a major milestone in the continued effort to reform how the state deals with untested sexual assault evidence kits.

A sexual assault evidence kit, also known as a rape kit, is a forensic exam used to collect evidence from a victim of sexual assault. The procedure is performed by a medical professional and is voluntary for victims.

At its monthly meeting, members of the SAFE Task Force approved a priority list of which untested sexual assault evidence kits would be submitted for testing. A preference will be given to the most recent cases in every category.

The highest priority will be given to kits that have the following criteria:

  • Must be within the statute of limitations;
  • Where the suspect is unknown;
  • A case that involved violence or forced involvement;
  • Where a child is involved;
  • There is potential the suspect is a serial or repeat offender;
  • Where the victim is a senior citizen or an individual with diminished mental capacity;
  • If multiple suspects are involved;
  • And in cases where charges have been filed or are pending.

Second tier priority includes:

  • Must be within the statute of limitations;
  • Where the suspect is known or it involves a date rape;
  • The district attorney declines charges;
  • The victim is uncooperative;
  • Where there is no accusation of rape or sexual assault;
  • And if both the victim and suspect claim intercourse occurred.

Kits with the lowest priority:

  • Any case beyond the statute of limitations.

The following kits will not be tested:

  • In a case where the victim has not reported to law enforcement;
  • The victim has requested the kit not be tested;
  • And if the offender has already been convicted of sexual assault and has a DNA profile in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

Authorities with the Attorney General’s Office will use the priority list to work in coordination with statewide law enforcement officials and district attorneys to evaluate untested kits to determine which are within the priority list to be submitted for testing by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).

Also announced at the meeting was the OSBI’s hiring of Matt Stillwell, who will serve as the administrator overseeing the new sexual assault evidence kit tracking system that should be in use by February.

Stillwell, of Edmond, has been with the OSBI since 1994 and most recently served as a toxicology technical manager.

The tracking system will be implemented by the OSBI and will allow victims, medical professionals and law enforcement officials to track the status of the rape kits during the testing process.

Attorney General Hunter said the recent developments are promising.

“Thanks to the outstanding work and commitment of the task force members, we are continuing to make headway on eliminating the number of untested kits, while creating a clear roadmap for the future,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Our goal is for there to be no more ambiguities in the system and with the continuous progress being made, we are well on our way to achieving that outcome. While we have surpassed great milestones together, there is still work to be done on behalf of victims and survivors of sexual assault.”