JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Following the Missouri attorney general’s audit of the more than 6,000 untested sexual assault kits in the state, Sen. Andrew Koenig has pre-filed legislation aimed at streamlining the process and making it easier for victims to track the status.
“If there are rapists out there because there are kits not getting tested, then that’s a huge problem,” Koenig told The Missouri Times in an interview. “It was one of the first bills I filed so it is going to be one of my top priorities.”
Koenig’s SB 569 mandates medical providers, law enforcement agencies, court personnel, labs, and other appropriate entities to participate in the state’s electronic tracking system. It also lays out a way for sexual assault victims or an advocate to track and receive reports and updates on the status of the evidentiary collection kit through a secured electronic system.
The bill would require the Department of Public Safety to create a central repository to keep and preserve unreported kits for 30 years.
Additionally, the bill streamlines the testing process. State statute now requires kits and each individual component be tracked separately — something the attorney general’s November report called “extremely burdensome” that has the potential to “compromise the integrity of the kit for no additional tracking benefit.”
Koenig’s bill would allow the testing and tracking of kits as a whole, which mirrored the attorney general’s recommendation.
“It’s something I’ve known has been a problem for a while so I wanted to do something in that space, and then when the [attorney general] sent out his report, it gave me some guidelines on how to fix the problem,” Koenig said.
Matthew Huffman, public affairs director for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV), said he was “encouraged” to see many of the attorney general’s recommendations mirrored in the legislation.
“With the attorney general’s release of the statewide untested sexual assault kit inventory, we basically know from those results, as a state, we have let down survivors of sexual violence,” Huffman told The Missouri Times. “It is our hope that moving forward, this is a priority for our state.”
The audit, released in November, revealed 6,157 kits remained untested across Missouri and identified an additional 830 that might need to be retested. Jackson County had the highest rate of untested kits, and Moniteau County had the lowest, the report said.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt has made tackling the rape kit backlog a priority for his tenure in office.
“It’s important to remember these kits are not just numbers. They are not footnotes to the reporting of a crime. They represent real human beings, who have suffered, confronted their fears, reported the assault, and submitted a kit,” Schmitt said in a statement when the report was released. “A kit that may have been put on a shelf and remained untested — until now.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.