Governor Signs Historic Bill Sponsored By DA O’Malley Ensuring Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed groundbreaking legislation to ensure that never again will a sexual assault kit languish, untested on the shelves of police departments or crime labs. Senate Bill 22, sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project and authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) requires the prompt testing of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (SAKs).

“I have fought tirelessly on a statewide and national stage to ensure that every sexual assault kit is tested in a timely manner,” states DA O’Malley. “We have finally succeeded in California and now sexual assault survivors can be assured that evidence taken from their body in a sexual assault examination will never again languish in an evidence locker or crime lab. Assailants will be brought to justice, serial rapists will be identified and the wrongfully accused will be exonerated. The passage of this law is a great victory for survivors of sexual assault as well as the system of justice in our state.”

Under the newly signed legislation, newly collected SAKs must be submitted within 20 days and tested no later than 120 days after receipt.

“After then-Governor Brown signed my SB 813 three years ago to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape, I knew that we still needed to fight to test all rape kits so that we can help put rapists behind bars with the critical DNA evidence found within these kits. There is absolutely no reason why a rape kit should ever sit untested for months or years when statistics tell us that testing rape kits helps to ensure justice by identifying perpetrators,” said Senator Leyva.

This law ensures that survivors who have subjected themselves to invasive examinations after an assault are guaranteed that the evidence collected will be tested within 120 days. Prompt testing will prevent future backlogs. DNA evidence is vital in identifying an unknown assailant or serial perpetrator, linking crimes together, and exonerating the wrongly accused or convicted.

This legislative victory comes after many years of advocacy on this issue. DA O’Malley is a statewide and national leader who has long fought for the elimination of the backlog not only in Alameda County, but in counties throughout California and the United States. In 2013, District Attorney O’Malley embarked on the task of identifying all untested SAKs in Alameda County and discovered a countywide backlog of nearly 1900 kits. Today, there are no untested kits in Alameda County, but that is not the case in other counties. DA O’Malley’s advocacy has also been key in securing federal funding that enables local law enforcement agencies around the country to identify and eliminate their own backlogs.

Posted on Oct 9, 2019