Media Archive by Year: 2017

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'Law and Order' Star Testifies About Rape Kits, Sexual Violence to Congress
June 16, 2017 • NBC New York
NBC New York

Mariska Hargitay, who plays the tough, dogged lead on "Law & Order: SVU," testified on behalf of real-life rape survivors Friday in front of a task force on sexual violence in the Capitol.

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30 years after assault, Michelle Bowdler discovered her rapists' DNA was never tested
July 11, 2017 • MassLive
Melissa Hanson

Michelle Bowdler will never know the identities of the two men who broke into her Boston apartment and raped her more than 30 years ago, even though they may have left crucial DNA evidence behind.

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A Call to Men: #IWILLSPEAKUP
October 30, 2017 • HuffPost
Maile M. Zambuto and Ted Bunch

Celebrities, our friends, our sisters, our daughters, and ourselves—are speaking out about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. From the simple yet powerful #MeToo to women’s detailed personal accounts in news stories and op-eds, this violence is at the forefront of our attention. The volume of the conversation is way up, getting louder, and showing no sign of stopping. It is inescapable.

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Anthony Edwards Discloses His Own Sexual Assault Story
November 10, 2017 • UPROXX
Dan Seitz

Anthony Edwards, best known for his work on ER and in Top Gun, has been working to discuss male victims of sexual assault for a long time, working with groups like Joyful Heart to raise awareness that sexual assault is a problem for everyone. Edwards recently took to Medium, however, to lay bare the personal impetus behind this: That he’s a survivor of sexual assault as well.

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Assault survivors have waited too long
March 4, 2017 • Albuquerque Journal
Jayann Sepich and Ilse Knecht

Every year, thousands of individuals who have been sexually assaulted take the step of reporting the crime to the police. They submit to an examination of their body and have evidence collected in a process that typically takes four to six hours. The evidence is saved in a “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit” – a rape kit.

DNA evidence is an invaluable investigative tool. When tested, communities can identify serial perpetrators, take dangerous offenders off the streets, exonerate the innocent and prevent future crimes.

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Attorney General's report calls for statewide standards on rape kits
January 3, 2017 • The Baltimore Sun
Alison Knezevich

Police in Maryland should test nearly all rape kits, notify victims of the results and store the kits for a fixed period of time, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said.

A report issued to lawmakers by Frosh's office Tuesday said a lack of statewide guidelines on when to test rape kits and how long to keep them has resulted in police departments adopting inconsistent policies. Some keep the kits indefinitely, but others throw them out.

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Bill Introduced to Reduce National Rape Kit Backlog
September 6, 2017 • KTVN Channel 2
KTVN Channel 2

A bill called the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act was introduced today and will reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

This legislation would also ensure pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, highlighting the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.

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Detroit’s rape kit backlog identified more than 800 serial rapists
December 19, 2017 • The Daily Dot
Samantha Grasso

Detroit’s eight-year dive into its untested rape kit backlog identified more than 800 serial rapists, illustrating the importance for law enforcement to take sexual violence seriously as part of the “Me Too” movement empowering survivors around the world.

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Eagle Club Indoor Golf Raises More Than $10K For Actress Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation
April 11, 2017 • Patch
Nikki Gaskins

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Eagle Club Indoor Golf is excited to announce the recent success of its first ever “Drive-A-Thon” fundraiser. On March 31st and April 1st, San Francisco’s #1 spot for indoor golf culminated its quarter long fundraising campaign with a drive-a-thon to benefit Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives. The money raised—$10,200 total—will benefit the non-profit’s “End the Backlog” campaign.

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Editorial: A rape kit calamity
February 20, 2017 • Savannah Morning News
Savannah Morning News

Joanie is a Missouri woman who was brutally raped in 1991 by a man she didn’t know and then was virtually ignored by the criminal justice system.

Fortunately, her attacker was eventually caught and sent to prison, thanks to persistent officials in that state who made sure the rape kit taken after her attack was tested and the results shared.

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Federal Dollars Help Clear Untested Rape Kits
October 6, 2017 • News LI
Andrea Sears

New York City is getting some federal help to eliminate its backlog of untested rape kits.

The Justice Department’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is distributing $34 million to 20 jurisdictions around the country. The grants will help test kits that have often sat in evidence lockers for years, prosecute those identified by DNA analysis, and keep victims informed.

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Former Houston woman sues city, officials over 6,000 untested rape kits
September 25, 2017 • Houston Chronicle
Gabrielle Banks

A former Houston woman is suing the City of Houston and a long list of current and former mayors and police chiefs for failing to investigate a backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits, and not identifying her attacker as a man who had been in a national police database for decades.

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From #MeToo to Men Too: How Men Can Prevent Harassment and Abuse
November 13, 2017 • HuffPost
Marianne Schnall

Since the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault story broke the floodgates, every day brings new allegations of powerful men assaulting or harassing women, and millions of women have been publicly sharing their personal stories and declaring “#MeToo.” But why is the onus always on the women to share their stories, to be the only ones leading the outcry and call for change? Both men and women are asking how men can get more involved in this movement and are committed to educating men on how to use their voices and influence to become part of the solution.

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Governor's 'No More' proclamation aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence
March 10, 2017 • Hawaii News Now
Shawn Ching

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor has declared March 5 to 12 "Hawaii Says No More" week to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. Gov. David Ige presented Maile Zambuto, CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation, with the official proclamation on Friday.

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How #MeToo could move from social campaign to social change
November 9, 2017 • CNN
Sandee LaMotte

A CALL TO MEN launch the Joyful Heart Foundation, which includes an op-ed and public service announcement featuring male celebrities.

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How Can We Solve America's Backlogged Rape Kit Problem?
May 11, 2017 • Glamour
Cady Drell

Someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. That's a number big and scary enough that you'd think it would be a compelling argument for doing something about it, and yet sexual assault cases rarely even go to trial, let alone lead to a conviction. One part of the problem: It's estimated that 175,000 sexual assault evidence kits — often referred to as "rape kits" — remain untested in evidence storage facilities around the country. 

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How Mariska Hargitay's 'Law & Order' Role Spurred HBO's Sexual Assault Doc
April 24, 2017 • The Hollywood Reporter
Ashley Lee

After 18 years of starring in Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay is taking on sexual assault offscreen.

The star of NBC’s long-running procedural series is a producer of I Am Evidence, a new documentary highlighting the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States. The dormant status of these kits, some of which have been left in police evidence storage rooms for decades, mirrors the pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault victims. Meanwhile, perpetrators are never held accountable for their crimes.

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I AM EVIDENCE – Time For Justice!
December 13, 2017 • HuffPost
Caroline Hart

If you believe in justice for the victims of sexual abuse, then make Mariska Hargitay’s HBO documentary - I AM EVIDENCE - coming to HBO in the next few months - a priority to watch. It will enrage you to know that over 400,000 rape kits in the USA have remained untested, leaving victims without justice and predators on the loose to rape again.

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It Took 9 Years to Finally Get Justice for My Sexual Assault
April 11, 2017 • Woman's Day
Kristen Mascia

Henrietta Sykes had all but given up on the arrest of the man who allegedly assaulted her. But when officials in her small town uncovered a dirty secret, they were finally able to give her—and hundreds of other women—the justice she deserved.

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Jefferson County to test backlogged rape kits with new $1.5 million grant
July 20, 2017 • AL.com
Ivana Hrynkiw

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office doesn't know how many untested rape kits they have-- but they plan to find out, and test them all.

According to information from the district attorney's office, there have been more than 27,000 rapes in Alabama in the past 19 years. Of those, 21 percent took place in Jefferson County. 

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Law: North Carolina police must inventory untested rape kits
June 29, 2017 • Associated Press
Christina Sandidge

No one knows how many untested rape kits have been shelved by local police departments throughout North Carolina, leaving victims to wonder if their cases will ever be solved, and leaving perpetrators free to strike again. A new law aims to change that by year's end.

The state budget, enacted this week following a veto override, requires that local law enforcement agencies take inventory of the kits they have and report their findings to the State Crime Lab by January 1.

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Lawsuit expands allegations that City of Houston didn't properly investigate rapes
December 25, 2017 • San Antonio Express-News
Robert Downen

A woman who waited five years for charges to be filed against her alleged rapist is suing the city of Houston, accusing authorities of showing "deliberate indifference" by failing to investigate a backlog of rape kits that could have identified her attacker much earlier.

Beverly Flores last week joined a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in September by another former Houston resident, DeJenay Beckwith. The two women seek damages, saying officials violated their due process and equal protection rights.

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Let’s Talk About It: ‘Hundreds of thousands’ of rape kits are sitting on shelves
January 9, 2017 • Ionia Sentinel-Standard
DomesticShelters.org

It was traumatic enough that in 1996, at just 17 years old, Helena was raped repeatedly by a stranger who approached her at a self-service car wash, pressing a knife to her throat before forcing her to drive to an abandoned truck yard. What followed was 13 years of being ignored by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Her rape kit—collected the same day that her rapist assaulted her, held her hostage, then freed her after threatening to kill her family if she went to police—sat on a shelf somewhere gathering dust for over a decade.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mariska Hargitay and Other Well-Known New Yorkers Give. Here’s Why.
November 28, 2017 • The New York Times
The New York Times

After the post-Thanksgiving shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday, which kicks off the season of charitable giving.

As The New York Times continues its Neediest Cases Fund campaign, we reached out to some prominent New Yorkers to ask them to name an organization to which they devote their resources.

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Locals, lawmaker speak out about Georgia’s rape kit backlog
November 18, 2017 • Savannah Morning News
Brittini Ray

It’s been four years since Paige Bullard was sexually assaulted on Savannah State University’s campus, but her journey as a rape victim advocate is just getting started.

And she says one of the biggest lessons that she has learned is that “what happened to her did not have to happen to someone else.”

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