Iowa governor signs bills into law to help sexual assault victims

Iowa's attorney general recommended the changes.
Iowa's attorney general recommended the changes.(kwqc)
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 2:59 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KWQC) - Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two bills on Wednesday to assist survivors of sexual assault.

House File 603 creates a sexual assault forensic examiner program to provide uniform training and resources to health care professionals.

Senate File 451 formally establishes a tracking system for sexual assault evidence kits and ensures future funding for the program.

The changes were proposed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

“I want sexual assault survivors to know that their case matters, that they matter,” Miller said. “These laws provide critical services to survivors and increase accountability and transparency in the investigations of these crimes.”

In October 2020, Miller’s Crime Victim Assistance Division completed the roll out of the Track-Kit statewide reporting system. The software program allows survivors to track the status of their evidence kits.

Senate File 451 codifies the responsibilities of the estimated 1,500 users of the reporting system at medical facilities, law enforcement agencies, crime laboratories, and county attorney’s offices. The legislation also sets forth requirements for the storage and disposal of kits, including requiring victim notification before disposal of a kit.

The goal of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program is to increase the number of nurses who are trained in examining survivors after a sexual assault, particularly in underserved areas of the state. The training will increase consistency in how exams are conducted and how information is given to survivors at the time of an exam.

Iowa has many trained sexual assault nurse examiners, but the state has not had an agency leading training efforts, maintaining a list of trained examiners, or documenting all of the locations with trained examiners.

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