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Paul Pioneer Press Ellen Johnson shows the locked refrigerator in a secure storage room around the corner from the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) room at Regions Hospital in St. To tell you the truth, if my refrigerator has room, I'll keep it longer," Johnson said.
Sexual assault evidence collection kits are kept inside the refrigerator. Paul Pioneer Press"I have kits that are three years old.
In fact, only a tiny portion — 92 — were actually under active investigation. They have an unenviable job: trying to pick which 10 — just 10 — of the 550 or so sexual assault kits they store downstairs that they will forward to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing.
Still, state law requires the kits be kept at least until cases are closed — and with some dating to the early 1990s, state officials have to figure out what to do with them. The first run-through took two months."We are trying to find the ones that we think have the most investigative value. It really was just a matter of reading case files," said Mary Faulkner, the advocate.
Duluth is aiming to send every kit they investigate within 30 days."You don't know what you don't know," Chief Tusken said.
The Anoka County sheriff's department, which had the second-highest tally in the state, at 495, is also sending kits for every case they believe meets a criminal standard.
Linda Walther, a RN Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner shows the boxes of sexual assault evidence collection kits stored at Regions Hospital in St. The reasoning: It's hard enough to decide, in those traumatic hours, to even come in for an exam."They didn't have a lot of choice about what happened, so they have a lot of choices now," said Johnson, a nurse who has examined sexual assault victims as young as 2 and as old as 84. It's not just the tiny box of Q-tips, swabs and hair samples — it's bags of clothing and bedding. But since it's technically not evidence yet, many metro area police departments — including those in Ramsey County — won't take them until there's a case. That's not counting those sitting in hospitals like Regions, or in the 25 departments that didn't respond to the bureau's survey.
By Minnesota law, sexual assault survivors don't have to decide whether they want to go to police when they arrive at a hospital to be examined. I'm just of the opinion I'd rather be safe."Discussion over what to do with rape evidence kits likely will get some play this year at the Legislature, after a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report found in late 2015 that 3,500 kits are sitting on police and sheriff's department shelves, untested.
Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake, "and I don't want to inundate the system."Linda Walther, an experienced RN sexual assault nurse examiner at Regions Hospital, bristles at leaving it up to police to decide whether to have kits tested."We all operate about these myths and biases about everybody, and rape is no different. Not all investigators view sexual assault the same way."Some agencies already are moving toward that model, independent of a state mandate.Also, Duluth's police department accepts kits from hospitals: A full quarter of its inventory is from people who haven't even agreed to talk to them yet.Duluth police chief Mike Tusken won't point fingers at specific departments, but "we have heard that other agencies, yes, in fact did get rid of their kits."We have always been and always are very good at evidence retention.In it, WDIO reports that: A Bovey man has been charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy.59-year-old David Allen Sigfrinius faces four felonies and two gross misdemeanors. Call out Robi Rudi Lattie Dottie, maybe they have something in common.