Idaho Sheriff: Rape Kit System ‘Unnecessary’ Because Most Accusations are False

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According to one Idaho sheriff, the Idaho legislature shouldn’t have anything to do with making a statewide rape kit collection and tracking system because most rape accusations are just plain false.

A new bill, which is heading to the desk of the governor now, would standardize how medical clinics collect evidence from suspected sexual assaults, and would create and enforce a timeline for law enforcement agencies to send evidence for testing at a state forensic lab.

DNA collected from rape kits goes into a nationwide database in order to check for matches. Rape kits contain semen, saliva, or blood found on the victim during an examination. Agencies would need the approval of their county prosecutor if they do not believe a kit should be tested.

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has not yet indicated whether or not he will sign the bill. But Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland told Idaho Falls television station KIDK, according to OregonLive, that this new measure prohibits members of law enforcement from doing their jobs. Rowland said:

They need to let us decide if we’re going to send the kit and when we send the kits in. Because the majority of our rapes — not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do — but the majority of our rapes that are called in, are actually consensual sex.

These comments add to the systematic issue of law enforcement not always taking rape victims seriously.

“This bill sends a clear message that victims are to be taken seriously,” said Democratic Senator Maryanne Jordan to the AP. “The DNA evidence in these kits can be a powerful tool in solving these crimes.”

This new measure aims to streamline the process by bypassing skeptical police by requiring that clinics send their kits for testing, unless the victim or county prosecutor say otherwise.

“It’s hard to know if a claim is false if the kits don’t get tested,” Ilse Knecht, policy and advocacy director for the Joyful Heart Foundation told the AP. “Each one of these kits represents a survivor. … We need to take their claim seriously, treat them with respect and use the evidence.”

According to a Vox report, 2 to 8 percent of rape allegations are actually false. The six point discrepancy comes from different understandings of what rape is. Therefore, depending on where and who is doing the reporting and investigating, many cases are not considered rape, leading to discrepancies amongst state and national agencies.

“The heated public discourse about the frequency of false rape allegations often makes no reference to actual research,”–this is according to a ten-year study done by Violence Against Women. “When the discourse does make reference to research, it often founders on the stunning variability in research findings on the frequency of false rape reports. ” The study found that the range for false rape allegations was between 2 and 10 percent.

Only 32-33 percent of rapes are even reported, according to the Department of Justice, cited in a report by RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), and only two out of every 100 rapists will spend any time in jail. With numbers like that, legislation that aims to give a voice and legitimacy to each victim is vital.

Julia Bryant
Julia Bryant is an Editorial Senior Fellow at Law Street from Howard County, Maryland. She is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Economics. You can contact Julia at



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