Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
Secretary Brown, others urge victims of sexual assault to be SAFE, get medical care
FRANKFORT, KY – Urging victims of sexual assault to put their health and wellbeing first, Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown joined law enforcement, hospitals and victim advocates in touting a new state law that ensures sexual assault exams are available to victims, even if they don’t immediately report the crime.
The Sexual Assault Forensic-Medical Exams (SAFE exams) had only been available to victims if the crime was reported to law enforcement. Under HB 500, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Sinnette and Rep. Marie Rader and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear this year, SAFE exams are available to all victims who request one.
“Delayed reporting is common in cases of sex crimes, and that time gap deprives the victim of immediate, necessary medical care,” Brown said. “This law allows the victim access to needed medical treatment, and preserves critical evidence for the prosecution of these crimes, even if reporting is delayed.”
The Justice Cabinet awarded $117,400 through the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP) for training and materials to prepare hospitals and other medical facilities for the new law. The Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Committee, co-chaired by KASAP and Kentucky State Police representatives, oversaw the project.
"After a sex assault, a person must have options for getting immediate help,” Eileen Recktenwald, Executive Director of KASAP, said. “Allowing victims to get health care without reporting to police is an option many people want, and more importantly, is necessary. We appreciate everyone who has been part of making this option a reality throughout Kentucky."
Under the law, Kentucky hospitals and other sexual assault examination facilities must provide SAFE exams to victims who request them, and be given a choice of whether or not law enforcement will be notified. If the victim chooses not to report the crime, samples must be stored for at least 90 days to allow him or her an opportunity to consider filing a delayed report.
First Lady Jane Beshear offered her support to the awareness project by taping a public service announcement urging victims to go to a hospital or other medical facility for a SAFE exam.
The PSA can be viewed at www.kasap.org.