Attorney general warns makers of DIY rape kit not to sell in New York State
Attorney General Letitia James is the most recent lawmaker to weigh in on the controversy surrounding at-home rape kits. James joined attorneys general in North Carolina, Michigan and Virginia in issuing a warning to the makers of the self-administered kits not to sell the product in her state.
While both companies named in James’ statement, PRESERVEkit and Brooklyn-based startup MeToo Kit, market their products as an alternative for sexual assault survivors to a forensic examination performed at a hospital, James and other attorneys general have argued that the evidence collected with a self-administered kit would not satisfy the required chain of custody (the paper trail that traces the transfer of evidence) and is therefore unlikely to hold up in court.
“Proper medical attention and accurate evidence collection are of critical importance to supporting survivors,” James said in the statement. “I am deeply concerned about companies selling kits that deter individuals from seeking professional care and purport to collect evidence without knowing whether the evidence will be admissible in court.”
MeToo Kit was founded by 23-year-old Madison Campbell and 24-year-old Liesel Vaidya and is headquartered in Downtown Brooklyn. While the kit is not yet available, interested customers can join a waitlist.
Last week, Campbell told the Brooklyn Eagle that she herself was a survivor of sexual assault, and that her mission was to help other survivors, not to take advantage of them.
“I know how terrifying and traumatic being sexually assaulted is,” she said. “All I wanted to do was give survivors time to process their trauma.”
Campbell defended the company, saying that the kits were not yet for sale because she was still working to address problems of admissibility. She told the Eagle that she was developing a barcode system to time the test and building an “invite a witness” feature that would allow a victim to take the test with a friend, who could then sign an affidavit.
PRESERVEkit is made by New Jersey-based company Preserve Group LLC, and available on Amazon for $29.95.
James pointed out in her statement that, in New York state, sexual assault exams are available to victims at no charge.
James’s office sent a cease and desist letter to both startups, warning that, if they sold the kits in New York, they would be in violation of laws prohibiting “deceptive, fraudulent or illegal business practices.”
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