Sex assault survivors can track case progress online

News

It will soon be easier for survivors of sexual assault to keep tabs on how the investigation into their case is going.

A new database is gradually being rolled out across the state, starting in Southwest Michigan. It is expected to be online in mid-Michigan by Spring 2019, and statewide by the end of the summer. The program, called Track Kit, will allow them to see where the test kits are in the process.

The database will not only keep survivors informed, but also keep investigators accountable and make sure kits are being tested.

“This is a wonderful addition for victims of sexual assault,” said Debi Cain, Director of the Division of Victims Services for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Every way that we can give victims back control of their own choices, and their own autonomy, that’s important and this system gives them that.”

Track Kit allows victims to track their sexual assault test kits through the investigation process.

“Once a kit is collected at a medical facility, it’s entered in that database or that software program. And at that point, it begins to be tracked,” said Cassie DeRuiter, Biology Supervisor for Michigan State Police.

It also gives law enforcement harder deadlines of when they need to send samples to the lab. This, officials say, will prevent kits from going untested.

“There have been situations where kits have been lost or misplaced,” DeRuiter said.

Back in may, Ingham County prosecutors added an investigator to review hundreds of untested sexual assault kits. Prosecutors say they weren’t lost, but went untested for a variety of reasons. And in 2015, more than 10,000 kits were found in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit. None of them had been tested.

Legislation has since been passed to try and prevent that from happening again, and officials say this is part of it.

“For victims to have that surety, as much as they can, that when they do a kit, it’s going to go forward, it’s going to be processed, that’s a huge thing,” Cain said.

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