Nessel: ‘Me Too’ home sexual assault evidence kits violate law

    Dana Nessel after a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Feb. 19, 2019 | Ken Coleman

    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday warned a company that its home sexual assault evidence kits violate Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act. The AG’s office is filing a petition in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking authority to issue investigative subpoenas.

    Nessel sent the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based “Me Too Kits” Co. a Notice of Intended Action, notifying the business that it must immediately cease and desist from engaging in unlawful business practices. The company has 10 days in which to provide the Office of the Attorney General with assurances of voluntary compliance, which must include an agreement that the company will not sell these sexual assault kits to Michigan consumers.

    Sexual assault evidence kit | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebecca Linder, Wikimedia Commons

    The attorney general office said the company is marketing the product as “first ever sexual assault evidence kit for at-home use.”

    “There is absolutely no benefit here for victims,” Nessel said. “In addition, some of the pitches the company is making actually demonize the process that allows the justice system to work. A victim should never be discouraged from reporting an assault and seeking the professional care he or she needs.”

    Sexual assault evidence collection kits are free in Michigan to those who seek medical attention for sexual assault within 120 hours of the assault. The evidence kit is included in a sexual assault medical forensic examination, which by law is provided at no charge to the victim.

    Nessel also warned the kits would not only cost victims their own money but would prevent them from getting the health care services they need following an assault. In addition, she said the kits would likely undermine law enforcement efforts to capture, charge, try and convict rapists, especially unknown and repeat assailants.

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    “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,” said Nessel. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Career prosecutors know that evidence collected in this way would not provide the necessary chain of custody. And it is unlikely any private lab would have access to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System, a national DNA data base created and maintained by the FBI), which would significantly limit the ability to identify unknown perpetrators or repeat offenders.”

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    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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