Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Marion Rarick (R)

Back to profile

New Law to Reform Handling of Sexual Assault Examination Kits Takes Effect

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rep. Marion O’Neill and House Republicans Champion Reforms to Provide Clarity to Law Enforcement and Strengthen Victims’ Rights

SAINT PAUL, MN—On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, a new law authored by Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, takes effect that will reform the way sexual assault examination kits are handled, provide clarity to law enforcement, and put power back in the hands of survivors seeking justice. The law came after a 2015 audit done by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) found a statewide backlog of nearly 3,500 untested kits including some involving open cases.

“While we know there is still significant work to be done to ensure every survivor of sexual assault receives justice, this new law is a significant step in the right direction,” said Rep. O’Neill. “As a mother to an adult daughter, as a lawmaker, and as someone who has worked hard to strengthen state law to protect victims of sexual and domestic violence, I thought it crucial to work with stakeholders and advance meaningful change. Not only must we ensure never again is there a backlog of kits, but as state leaders we must advance change that takes dangerous and often serial rapists off the street and ensures our legal system is working for victims of sexual violence.”

Taking effect today, this new law:

  • Requires law enforcement to retrieve an unrestricted sexual assault examination kit (meaning the patient has authorized law enforcement to submit the kit to a forensic laboratory for testing) within 10 days of notice, and submit that kit for testing within 60 days
  • Makes clear that the kit does not have to be tested if it’s believed to not have evidentiary value in a case (if there is a confession, for example), but still requires law enforcement to make a record with the county attorney on why the kit did not add evidentiary value
  • Ensures victims are more easily able to track their kits through the system, requiring law enforcement to respond within 30 days to requests from victims about when their kit was submitted to a lab and whether a DNA profile was obtained from testing
  • Requires law enforcement agencies to provide liaison services between the victim, agency and lab, helping victims more easily navigate what can be a complicated and overwhelming system
  • Creates clear procedures for victims who may choose to come forward at a later date with testing and reclassify their kit from restricted to unrestricted

This new law was crafted in a working group which included stakeholders associated with law enforcement, the BCA, health care, attorneys, sexual assault nurse examiners, and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA). MNCASA has also been instrumental in seeking federal grants that will help test all the remaining untested kits, looking especially for serial rapists. 

“At MNCASA, we are dedicated to helping survivors and championing public policy initiatives that put survivors first,” said Teri Walker McLaughlin, Executive Director of MNCASA. “We want to be a catalyst for positive and meaningful change, and we believe this new law is critical in addressing sexual assault in Minnesota.”

“Victims of sexual violence deserve justice. Ensuring there is a proper procedure to test critical evidence and helping survivors more easily navigate our legal system are both positive and much-needed changes in our state. Today, Minnesota law is seeing critically-needed reform, and I am hopeful that we can continue to advance bipartisan solutions that hold rapists accountable and stand up for survivors,” concluded Rep. O’Neill.




Recent News for Rep. Marion Rarick