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Video Transcript: What is a Sexual Assault Kit?

Speaking in this video:

  • Heather LaSalle, Forensic Examiner, DNA Casework Unit, FBI Laboratory
  • Gerald LaPorte, Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Science, NIJ
  • Heather Waltke, Associate Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Science, NIJ

Heather LaSalle: A sexual assault kit--it actually came about around 1960, and it was something that was used by a sexual assault nurse or some other healthcare professional. What they do is, they're really trying to balance the care of the survivor, of the victim in the case, and good quality collection for DNA analysis. Really it's important because those sexual assault nurses and healthcare professionals, they do a great job in making the collections that really make a big difference in getting quality DNA evidence in the case.

Gerald LaPorte: It would include body morphous swabs, collections of hair, fingernail scrapings, and any other evidence that could potentially have DNA or biological evidence from the suspect. Sexual assault kits can vary because the crime itself can vary. It's possible that the victim scratched the suspect's DNA under their fingernails. In some cases, the suspect may bite the victim, or lick the victim and leave saliva, so a sexual assault kit isn't always just sort of the same thing that's collected over and over. In some situations it can depend on the circumstances.

Heather LaSalle: But all those samples get properly sealed, they're under proper conditions, and they are put in that kit, and then held on to until they can be tested by a laboratory.

Heather Waltke: So, a sexual assault kit is an extremely important piece of evidence, but it's not the only piece of evidence in a lot of cases when a sexual assault occurs. There may be other pieces of evidence such as footwear impressions, blood spatter, cigarette butts that they leave behind that may have DNA on them. So it's really important to look at the case as a whole and some of the other investigative options that may be present as well, if DNA is not found in the sexual assault kit.

Date Created: January 10, 2016