BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Governor Charlie Baker signed a new law to protect the evidence collected from rape and sexual assault victims. The new state law requires crime labs to preserve evidence from rape and sexual assault victims for at least fifteen years, which is the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault charges.
Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law Wednesday surrounded by advocates, state lawmakers and rape survivors. Up until now, rape kits were kept for up to six months and would be disposed of unless the victim pressed charges or petitioned that the evidence be preserved. Several state lawmakers and advocates believe the current practice forces rape victims to re-live traumatizing experiences.
One survivor said that automatically preserving rape kits for fifteen years will lift a burden off victims who may want to file charges later. "Today represents justice," Amanda Nguyen, the founder of RISe told 22News, "not only for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of rape survivors in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
The law will go into effect in 90 days to give State Police crime labs enough time to roll out these new regulations.
H. 4364, An Act relative to the preservation of evidence for victims of rape and sexual assault