California Attorney General Rob Bonta this week announced the launch of a new online portal to allow survivors of sexual assault to track the status of their sexual assault evidence kits.
The attorney general also announced the hiring of the state’s first-ever sexual assault evidence outreach coordinator, Dr. Sarai Crain, who will work directly with law enforcement, medical facilities, and other partner organizations to support local efforts to track and process sexual assault evidence.
“Together, these new initiatives aim to clear the backlog of sexual assault evidence at the local level, ensure timely processing of sexual assault evidence, and increase transparency and access to information for survivors,” Bonta’s office said in a press release.
“There is no place for sexual assault in California or anywhere,” Bonta said in the statement. “My office is committed to doing everything in our power to support survivors, reduce harm, and secure justice.”
He pledged that the new actions will increase access to the information to which survivors are entitled under the law and support local prosecutors in their efforts processing sexual assault evidence.
“As the author of SB 215, I am so proud that California is continuing to prioritize and empower rape survivors by making sure that they are able to easily and privately find out where their rape kit is in the process,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva of what she hailed as a “survivor-centered online portal that prioritizes healing and justice.”
“For far too long, the forensic kits sat on the shelves in police evidence rooms, across this country and our state, untested,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement.
“Knowledge is power and this portal gives that power to the victim-survivor. By providing access to the progress and any results through testing the sexual assault kit, victim-survivors can move forward in their healing with the peace of mind that law enforcement and our crime labs are doing their legal and statutory part in bringing justice to the victim-survivor and protecting other individuals in our community,” she said.
The new portal — launched as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 215 in 2021 — enables survivors of sexual assault to privately, securely, and electronically track the status and location of their sexual assault evidence kit, following a forensic sexual assault medical exam. Survivors can learn in real-time whether their sexual assault evidence kit has been received by a law enforcement agency, is in transit to a lab, has been received by a lab, is undergoing DNA analysis or has had DNA analysis completed, according to the attorney general’s office.
In 2021, California’s public crime labs completed DNA analysis on more than 5,900 sexual assault evidence kits statewide, according to Bonta’s office. However, according to a 2020 statewide audit primarily focused on kits collected prior to 2018, there was a reported total of nearly 14,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits at the local level across California.
General information on resources from the California Department of Justice to help address sexual assault and violence is available here. A copy of the 2020 SAFE-T annual report is available here. Information on sexual assault forensic medical exams and how to obtain one is available here.
The portal announced Nov. 1 is accessible online at https://kitstatus.doj.ca.gov. Individuals without a sexual assault evidence kit number should contact the relevant law enforcement agency and, if necessary, may find additional information through DOJ’s Victims’ Services Unit.