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What Is a Sexual Assault Kit?

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
1 page
This video and accompanying transcript cover three brief presentations on the features and functions of a sexual assault kit in securing and preserving evidence in sexual assault cases.
Heather LaSalle - a forensic examiner in the DNA Casework Unit of the FBI Laboratory - briefly reviews the history of the sexual assault kit, noting that it emerged around 1960 as a tool for medical practitioners in their examination of sexual assault victims. The purpose of the kit is to ensure that medical personnel who examine sexual assault victims collect and preserve biological samples from the victim that might contain the offender's DNA. Gerald LaPorte - the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Director of the Office of Investigative and Forensic Science - addresses the DNA evidence samples likely to be collected with a sexual assault kit. These include body morphous swabs, collections of hair, fingernail scrapings, and any other evidence that could have DNA or biological evidence from the suspect. The material collected for a sexual assault kit will vary from case to case, depending on the nature of the crime and how it was committed. Heather Waltke - the Associate Director of NIJ's Office of Investigative and Forensic Science - advises that the sexual assault kit is not intended to contain all the evidence in a sexual assault case. Other physical evidence associated with the crime scene may also be critical in sexual assault cases, such as footwear impressions, blood spatter, and cigarette butts.

Date Published: January 1, 2016