October 5, 2021

Contact: Senator Robert Cowles: (608) 266-0484

Sexual Assault Kit Testing Timeline Bill Heard

MADISON– Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) released the following statement after a bill he authored with Representative David Steffen (R-Green Bay) and others, 2021 Assembly Bill 67, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety earlier today. Assembly Bill 67 establishes timelines and protocols for nurses and members of law enforcement that will prevent a future backlog of sexual assault kits, ensure a proper chain of evidence, preserve these kits throughout the statute of limitations, and most importantly, provide certainty to survivors seeking justice:

“More than two years after this effort was first introduced in the previous Legislative Session, my bill to create timelines and protocols for the collection and processing of sexual assault kits finally had a public hearing. We’re still dealing with the ongoing ramifications of decades of backlogged sexual assault kit tests, including through prosecutions that have come far too late. While the kit testing delay should not be forgotten, the progress that has been made has been tremendous.

“The cause of the sexual assault kit backlog was a bipartisan and multi-disciplinary failure, which is why I was proud that this bipartisan bill was heard to provide a statutory solution that will systematically prevent similar circumstances from every happening again. Sexual assault historically has been a notoriously underreported crime. Providing clarity and certainty to survivors with evidence collected from an assault may lead to more survivors seeking justice and more successful investigations and prosecutions.”

Senator Cowles’ testimony is attached to this release. Within a few days of the publishing of this release, the testimony from Senator Cowles and others will also be available here.