Anonymous Reporting LegislationMaine
The purpose of this legislation is to allow sexual assault victims to receive reimbursement from the Maine Victims' Compensation Fund for sexual assault forensic exams without having to report to law enforcement. In these cases, the fund must be used before insurance benefits are used.
To enable victims to receive sexual assault medical forensic examinations without cost, regardless of whether they report assaults to law enforcement.
Making the Idea a Reality
This legislation was part of a larger bill that created the first standardized forensic kit in Maine. The legislation resulted from a legislative study requested by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), which examined a range of issues related to forensic exams. (Because most stakeholders had seats at the table, the coalition was able to clarify the legislation's language well before it was brought to the legislature. Participating parties expressed their continued support for the bill throughout the process.)
Benefits to Victims
Victims can take time to decide if they want to report or not, while ensuring that the evidence is available should they need it. Victims do not need to worry about who will pay for the exam or about being billed by their insurance for it.
Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
Victim service professionals can tend to victim needs without requiring them to decide whether to report to law enforcement.
A full evaluation of the program has not yet been completed, but reimbursements for kits through the Victims' Compensation Fund have increased.
As with most major legislation, compromises had to be made along the way. The legislation had two shortcomings. First, as a result of concerns raised by law enforcement about storage of the kits, agencies are required to store kits for a minimum of 90 days (though many store them longer). Ideally, MECASA would like to see the storage run in line with the statutes of limitation. Second, while there is no reporting requirement for a medical forensic examination including sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy prophylaxis, victims must report crimes if they wish to receive compensation from the fund for other covered expenses.
In the last legislative session, the coalition considered a related issue: how to address individuals who come into the emergency department unconscious, but with significant indications that they have been sexually assaulted.