The district attorney for two Colorado counties is launching an extensive campaign to train hospitals and other organizations better on how to deal with confused or reluctant victims of sexual assault, reports the Denver Post. The effort in the 17th Judicial District will address recent confusion over access to rape kits. It follows a case last fall in which a woman who later told police she was assaulted by Denver Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox said she was told by an emergency-room worker that she would have to pay for a $500 rape test herself unless she reported the incident to police. Evidence was lost because she did not have the money to pay, although Cox was still charged and awaits trial.
A 2008 law directs the state to reimburse hospitals for the cost of a rape test, regardless of whether a police report has been filed. The idea is that crucial DNA evidence should be preserved, in case a victim later wants to report the crime to authorities. Money for the campaign — the broadest in the metro area — comes from a federal grant aimed at bringing smaller-scale sexual-assault response teams to rural areas. Adams and Broomfield counties were included as a big-city test case that could be studied to develop best practices for other urban areas. Making the reporting of rape less confusing and less invasive should boost the number of victims who report the crime, said Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator Michelle Wolff, who’s heading up the new campaign.