Major Weapon Against Sex Assault Isn’t Offered on Most Campuses

Boulder County sex crimes prosecutor Katharina Booth cites the importance of sexual assault forensic exams, often referred to as SANE exams or rape kits, in ensuring the physical well-being of survivors and collecting crucial DNA evidence that can help put rapists behind bars.

Boulder prosecutor Katharina Booth at the city courthouse in Boulder, Colo., on Sept. 30, 2014. Booth cites the importance of sexual assault forensic exams, often referred to as SANE exams or rape kits, to the success of prosecuting cases. “As a prosecutor, the SANE exam often gives us vital evidence that helps us prove fundamental elements of the crime of sexual assault.” The exams can reveal invisible injuries and collect crucial DNA evidence that can help put rapists behind bars.

Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Boulder prosecutor Katharina Booth at the city courthouse in Boulder, Colo., on Sept. 30, 2014. Booth cites the importance of sexual assault forensic exams, often referred to as SANE exams or rape kits, to the success of prosecuting cases. “As a prosecutor, the SANE exam often gives us vital evidence that helps us prove fundamental elements of the crime of sexual assault.” The exams can reveal invisible injuries and collect crucial DNA evidence that can help put rapists behind bars.

“For the survivor, it’s important for them to know they have been medically cleared, that they are getting proper medical care,” says Booth. “As a prosecutor, the SANE exam often gives us vital evidence that helps us prove fundamental elements of the crime of sexual assault.”

But an investigation by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News has found that SANE exams aren’t widely offered on college campuses across the United States, and only one four-year school in Colorado – Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction – offers them in immediate proximity to campus.

To date, they haven’t been offered at the University of Colorado, or anywhere in Boulder County. Officials say that will be changing early next year when a SANE program will be established at Boulder Community Hospital. The SANE exams also aren’t offered at Colorado State University or in Fort Collins.

Of the top 100 colleges as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2014, only four provide the exams in their student health centers. Twenty-two schools offer them at university-affiliated hospitals, according to a survey conducted by CU religious studies professor Lucas Carmichael and recent CU graduate Nevada Drollinger-Smith.

The Obama administration has called on colleges to do more to help victims of sexual assault.

To read the entire I-News report click here.

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