Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases. Through this program, funding is provided to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.
The Minnesota Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project (MN SAKI) is a collaborative effort to address the issue of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Minnesota. Through a $2 million grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2018 (Grant No. 2018-AK-BX-0019) and a subsequent grant in 2019 (Grant No. 2018-AK-BX-0019), Minnesota is able to test these SAKs, gain insight into the nature and extent of the challenges regarding the collection and processing of SAKs, and provide critical information for policy and programmatic interventions to improve the statewide response to sexual assault.
The project partners include the Office of Justice Programs, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandra House (a victim service provider), and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The project partners, along with numerous stakeholders, coordinate their work through the SAKI Multidisciplinary Team lead by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The funds from the two grants will support the following efforts:
- Test previously unsubmitted SAKs reported in the 2015 sexual assault kit inventory.
- Collect and evaluate data related to kit screening, testing outcomes, and any investigation and prosecution of these cases.
- Coordinate efforts among the project partners and other stakeholders.
- Develop protocols for sexual assault kit processing, investigation, and cold case victim advocacy and notification.
Under the project, sexual assault kits from Anoka County Sheriff’s Office will be reviewed and tested first, with a dedicated investigator to investigate these cases. A dedicated SAKI victim advocate from Alexandra House will provide services and support to Anoka County sexual assault victims in cases related to previously unsubmitted SAKs. All testing is done through the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an unsubmitted sexual assault kit?
An unsubmitted sexual assault kit is a sexual assault kit that has that have not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing and analysis using CODIS-eligible DNA methodologies.
What is the sexual assault kit inventory?
A sexual assault kit inventory is an inventory of sexual assault kits held by local law enforcement agencies that was conducted in 2015 by the BCA at the direction of the Minnesota legislature. That inventory determined that there were 3,482 sexual assault kits that were collected over the years as part of investigations, but not submitted for testing. When a sexual assault kit is collected from a victim, the investigating agency has the option to submit it to a forensic science laboratory for testing to determine whether it contains information helpful to the investigation. In the 2015 inventory, agencies said sexual assault kits had not been submitted for testing for reasons including the suspect confessed, the act was deemed consensual, prosecution was declined, the victim decided not to proceed, it was an anonymous report, and other reasons. This information was based on data provided to the BCA by law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Will all unsubmitted sexual assault kits be tested?
The two grants provide funding to test most, but not all, of the previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits identified in 2015 sexual assault kit inventory. All unsubmitted sexual assault kits will be evaluated to determine whether testing would potentially further an investigation or assist the grantees with developing sexual assault investigation protocols.
Will a kit only be tested if the survivor consents?
Only those kits where a victim gave permission for the kit to be tested at the time of the incident will be considered for testing. Prior to August of 2018, if the victim reported to law enforcement, that is interpreted as consent to test their kit, unless the victim specifically requested their kit not be tested. If the victim did not report to law enforcement, the kit will not be tested. If the victim later withdraws their consent, the kit will not be tested. As a result of a change in the law, kits after August 2018 are classified as either restricted or unrestricted based on the survivor’s decision whether or not to consent to forensic testing of the kit.
If you are a victim of sexual assault
Under Minnesota law, a sexual assault victim can obtain information about the status of their sexual assault kit by contacting the investigating agency. The victim can obtain the date the sexual assault examination kit was submitted to the forensic laboratory, the date the agency received notice of the results of testing, and whether a DNA profile was obtained from the testing.
Victims/survivors of sexual assault crimes committed in Anoka County in 2015 or prior that were reported to law enforcement can contact the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Notification Line to learn about the status of their kits. Anoka County victims/survivors can also call this line to state they do not want to be contacted about their case or that they do not want their kit tested.
Anoka County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Notification Line: 763-324-5229
For questions about the Minnesota SAKI project, please contact Jude Foster the Statewide Medical Forensic Policy Program Coordinator at MNCASA at 651-288-7450 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For media inquiries, please contact Kim Mongoven the Communications and Development Director at MNCASA at 651-288-2242 or email@example.com
Resources for Victims/Survivors
If you or someone you know needs help, support is available through the resources below. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Anoka County SAKI Notification Line
- Call: 763-324-5229