Lawmakers look to extend sexual assault kit storage time

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FILE – This Feb. 8, 2017, file photo, sexual assault evidence collection kits are shown during committee meeting at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File )

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A bipartisan bill introduced this week would require law enforcement to keep sexual assault kits in storage for seven years, up from only one year in the current law.

The bill would keep the kit preserved for at least seven years, or until the victim reaches the age of 25, whichever is later.

If a patient comes into a hospital after a sexual assault or rape, health care workers will notify the patient that it will be stored that long and make sure no personal identifying information is stored on it to protect privacy.

South Dakota has the second-highest rate of forcible rapes in the country, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Health.

Data from 2012 to 2018 showed an average of 781 sexual offenses per year and at least 4,000 children facing sexual abuse each year.

That number doesn’t even count data from the nine Native American reservations in the state. 2018 data from the FBI, showed rapes at twice the national average.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. No hearing date has been set.