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Pa. House OKs bill to put sexual assault investigations on fast track

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sexual assault

HARRISBURG (WPMT)-The state House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would speed testing of DNA evidence stemming from sexual assaults.

Representative Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) introduced House Bill 272  in February. The legislation would codify precise policies and procedures dealing with the collection and testing of sexual assault evidence.

“Victims of sexual assault and their families deserve timely resolution of these despicable crimes,” Neuman said.

House Bill 272 would:

  • Require the state Department of Health to designate laboratories approved to receive and test sexual assault evidence;
  • Require local authorities to submit evidence within 15 days to an approved laboratory, which must complete testing within six months;
  • Mandate reports on testing backlogs, and permit authorities to upload testing results into databases to help solve re­lated sexu­al as­sault cases; and
  • Re­quire notifications to vic­tims or sur­viv­ing fam­ily when DNA test­ing has been com­pleted.

“Experts estimate that there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of sexual assault kits nationwide that have never been submitted to a laboratory for testing,” Neuman said. “The problem is compounded by the fact that most states don’t track and count untested kits.

The bill heads to the state Senate for consideration.

“It is vitally important that we give law enforcement all of the tools they need to help protect victims and catch these violent criminals,” Neuman said.