Rape kits scarce on college campuses

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Rape Kits
Supplies used during a training session for nurses on Sex Assault Forensic Exams at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Some of the nation's most prominent colleges and universities are grappling with allegations of sexual assault. But a recent report found the kits needed to preserve evidence of rape are hard to find on campuses. It also found many hospitals near the schools don't have what are known as "rape kits" either.

The kits, also referred to as Sex Assault Forensic Exams, generally include devices for evidence collection, swabs, a comb, documentation forms and other items useful to preserving critical evidence for prosecutors investigating a rape claim.

Rocky Mountain PBS's I-News said only four of the nation's top 100 colleges offer rape kit exams in their student health centers.

In Colorado, for example, the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins don't have rape kits on campus. Moreover, the kits are not available at local hospitals. Students who want to be examined have to travel to hospitals in other cities.

Boulder sex crimes prosecutor Katharina Booth says the distance victims have to travel deters them from reporting these crimes.

"I think we miss a large majority of our sexual assault survivors coming forward, getting the care they need or deciding to report to police,” Booth says. “They crawl back in bed.”

The Boulder County District Attorney's office is working to bring a SANE program to the Boulder Community Hospital. CU Boulder says it is participating in the effort.

This summer, eight U.S. senators introduced a bill to require colleges to provide information on their websites about the nearest facility offering the exams.