Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s fight against home sexual assault evidence kits continues, as the company that produces them failed to respond to the office’s demand to cease and desist sales in Michigan.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based “Me Too Kits” Co. markets the product as the “first ever sexual assault evidence kit for at-home use” — an idea, Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said, that does not help survivors of sexual assault. The company’s website was down as of the story’s publication.
When someone seeks medical attention in within 120 hours of the assault, rape kits are free in Michigan and victims can receive physical and emotional help from doctors and advocates present.
“If you use one of these kits, you’re really committed to going it alone, and that’s a terrible place to be for a victim,” Rossman-McKinney said.
According to Rossman-McKinney, the AG’s office filed a request for investigative subpoena on Monday after the company failed to respond to an assurance of voluntary compliance after 10 days. The Ingham County Circuit Court judge could make a decision on the subpoena Friday.
The attorney general’s office has had several meetings with the attorneys representing the company, Rossman-McKinney said. No agreement has been reached, so the office moved forward with the next step to get the kits out of Michigan.
The office found out about the kits from career prosecutors for the AG’s office being alerted by a Title IX coordinator. Some of these kits are being marketed for schools to purchase and can cost $30 to $50.
Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark, who prosecuted former Michigan State University Dean William Strampel and is prosecuting former MSU head gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, informed the office about the kits. Rossman-McKinney said immediate action was taken by the office due to the grave concerns with such a product.
Nessel put out a statement late last month blasting the company for being a hinderance to the justice process and said the kits were doing nothing to help victims.
“This company is shamelessly trying to take financial advantage of the ‘Me Too’ movement by luring victims into thinking that an at-home-do-it-yourself sexual assault kit will stand up in court,” Nessel said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Nessel said marketing for the kits shames individuals from reporting a crime and the kits don’t address injuries, emotional trauma, sexually transmitted infections or several other services provided during a medical exam.
In addition to the resources for healing the AG’s office asserts the at home kits deprive victims of, the product fails to fulfill a major function of sexual assault forensic exam: collecting evidence.
In her statement, Nessel said career prosecutors can attest to the fact that a kit that has victims or other individuals collect their own evidence for prosecution purposes cannot hold up in court.
“If your goal ultimately is to pursue your rapist, the only way to ensure to that your rape kit stands up in court is to ensure the chain of cutody of your evidence stands up in court,” Rossman-McKinney said.