After the Webinar: Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights. Q&A with Katharine Manning

Webinar presenter Katharine Manninganswered a number of your questions after her presentation, Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights.  Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: How many years out can you go back to the results of a rape kit? 

Katharine Manning: So, it varies by jurisdiction. There are some jurisdictions where the kit will be held for 10 years, some will be held for five years. But that’s part of the goal of this Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act was to try to get some uniformity around that and for the kits to be held longer. So, for instance, that kit is, you know, you’re in a state where the statute of limitations is 10 years, for instance. It tends to be tied to the statute of limitations, because you can’t prosecute after that, right? So, say a sexual assault happens in 2020, then the statute of limitations will run in 2030 and so the law in that state would say it has to be held for 10 years now. Nobody has any idea who that is. We have the DNA, but we have to kind of match. Then in 2028, there is a match. You can still go back and prosecute that 2020 sexual assault based on the kit that has been held for those eight years. I hope that answered it, Let me know if it didn’t.



Audience Question: Huck is wondering if any of the previous links or other links you can share talks about how to submit for reimbursement of expenses around testing…? 

Katharine Manning: Gosh, let me see. No, I can’t recall in the report if they got into that level of detail about how you submit for reimbursement. I am betting if we – I’m just going to go back in the slides to the law enforcement. I bet if you go to that IACP website, that first bullet point there, I bet they have that guidance there on how you submit for reimbursement. That’s my guess, is that would be the best place to find that.



Audience Question: Are there any actions being taken to standardize the rape kit supply chain, track, inventory to use to testing, and so on and so forth? 

Katharine Manning: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of holy grail, right? I think that it’s something that people really want to be able to have. I think in some ways, the pizza order, is a little bit, a little unfair comparison because obviously, there isn’t any concern about privacy with your pizza order, at least less concerned about privacy with your feet to order, right? Law enforcement officers and healthcare providers, obviously are both very, very concerned about maintaining the privacy of your information. So that’s why it has been somewhat difficult to ensure that information can go, can be tracked all the way from the hospitals, say, through the prosecution, right, or wherever you get the evidence results. So, it can be very, very difficult but a lot of states are tackling it right now. I had a little bit on that. So many states and they’re having it. Yeah. So, I know that at least Idaho does. Washington State has an evidenced tracking system. So, they are getting there. It’s just, it’s not an easy fix, unfortunately. I think everybody recognizes that it’s important especially because so often, the people who are assaulted right are the ones who are the most vulnerable. They tend to be young. Often, they’re poor, they move around a lot. And so, making it so that the survivor can access his or her own kit, right? Like the way that Idaho does, where they get a serial number, and then they can figure out where the kit is really, really good because if you just rely on some administrative agency to reach back out to the survivor occasionally to let them know, give them a status update. I think that’s a system that is more likely to fail just because it’s going to be hard to keep track of the individual survivor. So, yeah, If we can as much as possible, find ways to develop online, digital, technical solutions to this problem so that the survivor is able to get the information about their kit and just track it all the way through. We are making great strides that’s what I can tell you. But I don’t think we’re there, at least not nationally, yet.



Audience Question: If the victim does require medical care, are the costs covered by the victim? I’ve seen some great comments. In some states, it seems like victim funds will help offset some of those costs and then others, it’s their responsibility but I’d love to know experiences with that. 

Katharine Manning: Yeah, interesting, right? So, thanks for pointing out the difference there, right? So, the kit, right, so the rape kit itself is required to be covered by the Violence Against Women Act. So that’s something that should be getting paid for all the time, but maybe the victim also has a broken arm that happened during the assault, right? So, she’s going to need medical care for that broken arm. That’s separate from the rape kit. So, is that covered or not? Now, as pointed out by a number of the attendees, there is crime victims’ compensation, and crime victims’ compensation absolutely can be used for things like medical care for physical injuries, 100%. The challenge is, in most jurisdictions, it requires a report to law enforcement. So, if you have a survivor who says, I don’t want to report this, or at least I don’t know if I want to report it, I don’t want to report it yet, then you can run into some problems that might not be covered by crime victims’ compensation at that point. So, they might have to pay for it out of pocket or use their medical insurance or something if they have anything like that, Medicare and Medicaid. So, in those instances, yeah, it might be challenging to get that medical care covered. Now, if they do report it and it doesn’t have to be usually that they go all the way through the case, often it can be a report to law enforcement and kind of goes no further and that’s enough to give them access to crime victims’ compensation. Just for those who don’t know, crime victims’ compensation is a state-run program that covers costs, generally out of pocket costs for crime victims. Because it is run by the state, each state decides who is able to access crime victims’ compensation. So, the rules in Hawaii would be different from the rules in Oregon, would be different from the rules in Idaho, right? So, you have to know what is available in your own state. Generally, though, there is a requirement of a report to law enforcement. But it’s very easy to find the crime victims’ compensation rules in your own state. You just do a quick search for Idaho Crime Victims’ Compensation, and you’ll come to a website that will layout very clearly what are the requirements for accessing crime victims’ compensation



Audience Question: Do you know offhand, any jurisdictions where that crime victims’ compensation covers mental health services? 

Katharine Manning: Oh, I do. But I can’t say, I feel like maybe Hawaii does, but I’m afraid of speaking out of turn because I’m not positive. I don’t have it right in front of me, but I do know in some states they do cover. Yeah.

Host:  Angela just shared that California does. So, thank you, Angela. Missouri, Wyoming does, as well and in the state of Washington, so a number of jurisdictions, it sounds like they do. By the way, you’ll get these comments, you’ll have this information. My goodness, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Missouri, Wyoming, Texas, Minnesota. It sounds like a lot of states also cover that mental health. Thank you so much for that, everyone.

Katherine Manning: Fantastic



Audience Question: What are your thoughts about law enforcement not wanting to send kits in immediately if the offender claims it was consensual? She’s apparently heard officers say they don’t want to back up the log anymore if it’s not going to show anything again if it’s consensual. Love to hear your thoughts on that. 

Katharine Manning: Interesting. So just to make sure I understand, the question is, thoughts on law enforcement officers who are saying, let’s not even get the kit because we don’t have enough evidence that this was nonconsensual, and I don’t want to add to the backlog. Is that right? Is that the question?

Host: That’s it even getting the kit or submitting a kit, it kind of sounds like.

Katharine Manning: I see. Yeah. I mean, personally, I think that’s a shame. Because that’s kind of pre-judging the case, right, before we know much of anything, I can understand the concerns about adding to the backlog, and certainly, you know, in a lot of states, the backlog is pretty daunting. I would just urge them to think through, how would, how would it look, how would it feel if you were wrong about that? And somebody later said, well, this was a serial sex offender, and we had, we had his DNA two years ago and we never tested it, right? We don’t know that early in the case, whether this is a sexual assault or not, and really collecting the kit is the first step in that. So, I would just urge them to do that, to collect the kit and send it on, and if there are problems with the backlog and getting information in a timely way, there are other avenues for dealing with that rather than allowing an investigation to be curtailed.



Audience Question: If a rape kit is about to be destroyed, can the victim request the kits so may be taken to a private testing facility? 

Katharine Manning: That’s an interesting question. You know, so under the Survivors Bill of Rights Act, if you’re in a state that has that, then that shouldn’t be necessary because the victim can just write a written request and have the kit held longer. If you’re in a jurisdiction that does not have the Sexual Assault Bill of Rights Act, and so there isn’t a way for the victim to preserve that evidence. You know, I’m not positive and I’m a little bit loath to opine on it because I haven’t heard about it, but I guess if they’re going to destroy it anyway, I can’t imagine why you couldn’t do that. Obviously, there would be if, if later, there was some investigation where it was relevant, there would be a lot of concerns about the chain of custody. So, I don’t know if that kit would ultimately be able to be used or not, but I don’t know that it would be barred. I’m not I haven’t heard of a rule that it must be destroyed, and the victim can’t have access to it. Another thing just to keep in mind is the statute of limitations. Now, what we’re tending to see is that the kits are supposed to be held for the full length of the statute of limitations. And so, if that’s the case, then there couldn’t be a subsequent prosecution anyway. You know if the kid has to be held for 10 years because the statute of limitations was 10 years, after 10 years, there can’t be a prosecution no matter what. But a really interesting question there and thank you. And if anybody else in the audience has information on that, or seen it, please chime in.

Host: Sherry did just share a pretty much what you said, that chain of custody may end up being a problem if the victim takes the kit.



Audience Question: We have a couple of questions and comments around the Bill of Rights applying to only those who have had kits and who have been received the tests. To summarize, do you recommend any protocols in terms of sharing the victims and telling victims that by not reporting they may not be eligible for compensation? 

Katharine Manning: So, again, you know, the crime victims’ comp laws vary by state. In general, most states do say that there has to be a report to law enforcement. So, I think to know the laws,  the rules around crime victims’ comp in your state, but if that is true, I think that’s useful information for a survivor to have. They should understand what all of the implications of the decision are, whether to report or not. One of those is crime victims’ compensation. I also feel very strongly that it’s important that survivors understand how the criminal justice process works. So often, I think people see these horror stories about what happens to survivors that they get just torn apart on the stand and that they are re-victimized by the criminal justice process. I hope that that is the exception and not the rule, and that, overwhelmingly, survivors are treated with respect and care throughout the criminal justice process, by law enforcement officers, by advocates, by prosecutors, or corrections, and court personnel. And so, I hope that survivors are being given that perspective as well, right? I know that some people feel that they lost control in the criminal justice process, but I have to hope that that is the exception and that for a lot of survivors, the criminal justice process can be a positive experience. And so, I guess, my concern would be just making sure that the survivors have the full information as they’re making the decision about whether they want to report or not. And then, obviously, we leave it up to them, right? Our role is not to second guess, people, this person has already lost a lot of control over something very, very important in her life. Their bodily control, right, has been compromised. So, our role here is not to come in and swoop in and say, well, here’s what you have to do. We have to give them the information and then let them make the choice. But I would, you know, if you’re in a jurisdiction, a state where crime victims’ comp is limited to those who’ve made reports, I think it’s important that the survivors understand that.



Audience Question: Kathy messaged to me and said if they have an essay exam in New York that can use that in lieu of a police report. So that’s fantastic. And Loretta shared that in Wyoming, there does not have to be a report to law enforcement. So, as you said, it really does vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and I’m sure there are lots of other jurisdictions that have rules similar to that, Kathryn? Again, thank you so much for the wonderful presentation. We’ve received some great feedback already Before we shut down today. I would love to give you a final opportunity for closing remarks.

Katharine Manning: All right. Well, I have something kind of exciting I want to share with you guys. So, I have a book coming out next year. I’ve written my first book, and it’s coming out in February, and I just got the cover. There it is. It’s called the Empathetic Workplace and the whole point of the book is how we can all do a better job supporting survivors, particularly in workplaces. Right? So, it’s less about how we support our friends who are survivors but more supporting survivors in a work setting and it’s out next February. I’m so excited about it.  I just got the cover and I just felt like I had to share since I have this menu. So that’s the cover for it. Also, here is my information. I have to confess this is me and very, very good lighting. I don’t look like this right now. But here is how to get in touch with me. I have a newsletter that you can sign up for at my Author website, which is That way, you’ll hear about the book. I also, if you would like, I have a little one-pager with all the resources that I’ve talked about in this presentation with hyperlinks, to make it very easy to get to them. So, if you sign up for the newsletter, you know today, or tomorrow, say, I’ll just send you that one-pager, in case you’d like to have it. I also do lots of training. So, my company, as you heard at the beginning, is called Blackbird, DC. There’s my website if you want to learn more about training.  I just love to stay in touch. So, please, if you use Facebook or LinkedIn, reach out and connect through these, those platforms, or in any other way that you like. I really love talking about these issues and when I looked through the attendees on for this call, I was just so thrilled to see the incredible diversity of experience, both in terms of the broad areas that you cover, the depth of experience, the different places that you’re working and the victims that you serve. So, always know that I am a resource for you. if I can help in any way please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Very easy to do through the use and through my Blackbird, DC. It’s very easy to even just set up a time to call me. So, never hesitate to reach out. I love talking through these issues and I always want to be available as a resource to all of you because you’re doing such important work. Thank you so much for your time today and for everything that you’re doing to support survivors. I’m so grateful to know that all of you are out there.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights




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