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Company criticized for selling at-home rape kits; MnCASA warns evidence wouldn't be admissible

Updated: September 06, 2019 10:22 AM

A company advertising an at-home rape kit is facing scrutinity. The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MnCASA) is warning victim-survivors the kit will likely not be allowed as evidence.

The founders of the "MeToo Kit" said they believe that the documentation process largely deters victims from reporting these violent crimes. But MnCASA said using this kit won't help victim-survivors get justice.

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"I would like these kits to go away; I would like them to be pulled," said Jude Foster, with MnCASA.

The founders posted a video saying they are "the first commercially available kit for collecting your evidence after a sexual assault or rape, without the authorities and without a hospital intervention."

MnCASA said that's the problem. Without medical experts or law enforcement officials overseeing the evidence chain of custody, these at-home, do-it-yourself kits without medical experts or law enforcement officials wouldn't count as evidence.

"It's very hard to process sexual assault cases without that evidence," said Foster.

The "MeToo Kit" website says there is no guarantee any of the evidence collected from their kit will be admissible in court, but they're still lobbying for support in the future.

"It feels really exploitive," said Foster. "This is a for-profit company, that is going to be profiting off victim survivors and they are causing great harm."

The company said, once finalized, it'll cost less than a ride-share to the hospital. They hope someday their kit will be free and also developed in a way that it could be used in court.

Even so, there is a limited amount of time to collect any evidence. In some cases it needs to be done within three to 10 days.

MnCASA said if victim-survivors want evidence to be collected, they want that evidence to be admissible in court, if the victim chooses to press charges.

The kit isn't yet available for purchase.

Attorney General Keith Ellison's office has been in contact with organizations that provide services to and advocate for survivors of sexual assault, who have made clear their concerns to our office, which the Attorney General shares. As a result, they've begun to look into this product. Attorney General Ellison asks anyone who's been approached about, purchased, or used a Me Too Kit to contact his office. The best way to contact them is by phone: in the metro area, call (651) 296-3353 and outside the metro area, call (800) 657-3787. 

MnCASA is a coalition of community-based advocacy centers that offer free and confidential services to survivors of sexual violence—available 24/7 throughout Minnesota. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you can find your local advocacy center at www.rapehelpmn.org  or by contacting MNCASA at 651-209-9993. There are also more resources posted below.  


Resources available

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has compiled a list of resources for those who have experienced, or are experiencing, assault:

RapeHelpMN.org

Minnesota Day One

hotline: 1-866-223-1111

United Way

hotline: 800-543-7709

Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault


After Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the "company is shamelessly trying to take financial advantage of the 'Me Too' movement," MeeToo Kit Company CEO Madison Campbell issued the following statement:

"As a sexual assault survivor, I find the comments of Michigan AG Nessel deeply disappointing. My purpose in founding MeToo Kit Company was to help those who suffer as victims of sexual assault. For the Attorney General to claim that the company is trying to "take financial advantage" of the MeToo movement and that there is "no benefit" is patently false and downright shameful. Rather than sending a subpoena and making aggressively statements to the press, Attorney General Nessel should be more concerned with creating a productive dialogue in which my colleagues and I can address some of the concerns she may have on behalf of the people of Michigan. For far too long, sexual assault victims have been left behind, limited in the options they can choose after such a traumatic event. Last year there were more than 7,000 reports of rape in Michigan, of which less than 15% resulted in arrest, and even fewer convictions.  Given Michigan's poor track record in protecting and supporting survivors of sexual assault, I would have hoped that the Michigan Attorney General's office would be more open to new and innovative ways to assist with this crisis. MeToo Kit Company looks forward to a time when it can begin truly productive dialogue with Attorney General Nessel and anyone else who may have concerns or suggestions."

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Credits

Crystal Bui/Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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