On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that convicted sex offenders can be required to pay for the medical sexual assault examinations that survivors have to go through.
According to the Denver Post, the court made the decision after hearing cases of Adam Michael Teague and Bobby Nicky Rogers, two sex offenders who contested court orders that they be charged for their victims' forensic examinations.
The district court ruled that Rogers wasn't responsible for exam costs on the basis that exams are used to gather forensic evidence that helps law enforcement build their case. However, the high court reversed this ruling, citing that the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners who administer exams not only provide forensic evidence, they contribute to medical care for a patient after a crime. Therefore, rape kits can be considered "extraordinary" to a crime, and can be billed to convicted perpetrators.
"As both a medical and investigative response to a sexual offense, a SANE exam necessarily performs dual roles," the court stated. "It functions not only as a valuable tool for collecting sexual assault evidence, but also as a patient-centered medical procedure that is sensitive to victims' treatment needs, conducted by medical personnel, and limited to the scope of victims' informed consent."
In addition to emotional trauma, sexual assault survivors often have to contend with hefty fees for rape kit tests, with bills that average nearly $1,000. And that's for those who are insured — the average rape kit case costs a total of $6,737.
Given that with other violent crimes, victims aren't made to pay for the damages resulting from the crime, it's time we stop putting the financial burden on sexual assault survivors and start holding their attackers responsible.
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