Above: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and a medical exam room.
The Oregon legislature passed Melissa’s Law during its last session and the bill was signed by Governor Brown on March 29, 2016. The new law addresses the processing of rape kits and the existing backlog. Among other things, the law requires the Department of State Police to adopt rules, policies, and procedures related to the prioritization for processing of untested rape kits and the handling of future rape kits.
The law requires that medical facilities notify police within seven days that a rape kit exists, that police pick up the kit within seven days after a hospital notifies police that a kit exists, and that police send the kit to the lab within fourteen days of receipt. Unfortunately, the law does not require the state to test the kit within a certain amount of time. Rape kits, whether anonymous or named, must be maintained for at least sixty years. Police must also report to the legislature on an annual basis the number of kits that have not yet been tested.
The bill was named after Melissa Bittler, a young woman who was attacked and killed by a serial rapist in 2001. The perpetrator had raped at least two other teens in 1996 but the rape kits weren’t tested before Bittler was murdered. Bittler’s parents, who supported the bill, have spoken out in the belief that their daughter might be alive today had the other rape kits been tested in a timely manner.
For more information and to read the bill in its entirety, visit: http://koin.com/2016/02/02/melissas-law-takes-aim-at-untested-rape-kits/
In addition to Melissa’s Law, the legislature also passed Senate Bill 1600. This law will allow the district attorney to prosecute, at any time, first-degree sex crimes if there is corroborating evidence. The Governor signed this bill on April 4, 2016.
To read the bill in its entirety, please visit: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2016R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB1600/Introduced
Also in this issue...
UO Domestic Violence Clinic Gets a New Home
Clinic Alumni Working With Survivors
Caroline Forell: The Best of the University of Oregon
Alumni Spotlight: Amy Hicksted
New Book by Professor Merle Weiner Discusses Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Clinic Spotlight: Kathryn Moakley
Senate Bills 1571 and 1600 Will Help Survivors of Sexual Violence
How Survivor Advocates Can Avoid Burnout
Normal Jealousy or the Start of Abuse?