The Campaign Spot

Why No Record of Wasilla Charging For Rape Kits?

A few weeks ago I offered six points to consider when you hear about the town of Wasilla, Alaska and its egregious former policy of charging rape victims for rape kits.

Point number four noted “An aide to a Democratic state legislator tells USA Today that women in Wasilla did pay out of pocket for their rape kits.” But the Wasilla government records do not confirm that:

The Finance Department searched all financial records on our system for fiscal year 2000, 2001 and 2002. There are no records of billings to or collections from rape victims or their insurance companies in our system. The financial computer system goes back to the beginning of fiscal year 2000, and accounts receivable backup documentation goes back six (6) years per our records retention schedule. A review of files and case reports within the Wasilla Police Department has found no record of sexual assault victims being billed for forensic exams.

FBI records indicate that there was one rape in Wasilla in 2000. (The FBI did not collect records for previous years.) The state’s ban on charging for rape kits was passed in 2000. (The text has no enforcement date; the state legislature’s web site list the law’s “effective date” as August 14, 2000.)
Nonetheless, fiscal year 2000 began Oct. 1, 1999 and ended Oct. 1, 2000. Because we know one rape occurred in calendar year 2000, if it occurred before August 13, there should be at least one record of a victim being charged for the rape kit. (If the rape kit charge had occurred after Oct. 1, 2000, it would have been accounted for under fiscal 2001. But by this point, the state’s legislation would have gone into effect, and no charge would have been made.)
Palin was mayor from 1996 to 2002, so we don’t have a complete record. But if the much-decried policy was in fact in place, and a victim had been raped before August 14, 2000, there ought to be a record of that one victim being charged for a rape kit. That there is not raises questions about the coverage of this town’s policy.

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