TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Sexual assault survivors across Utah have a new way to track their cases. Wednesday, public safety officials launched an information help line that people can call to talk with a victim advocate.
Simply put, the Sexual Assault Kit Information Line is a ‘one-stop shop’ for people to ask questions, get connected with resources like therapy, and track rape kits.
At a press conference inside the state crime lab, the person in charge of answering calls through the new line introduced herself to the survivors she will be helping.
“I want survivors and victims to know that when they call, it’s on their terms,” victim advocate Lauren DeVries said.
The phone number is (801) 893-1145.
Organizers say the line is part of a statewide push to make sure every sexual assault case in Utah is thoroughly processed, because behind every rape kit is a real person waiting for closure he/she deserves.
At Wednesday morning’s meeting, prosecutors, state crime investigators, and members of a new group dedicated to pursuing justice for survivors gathered to talk about their progress. For years, they say, they could not get everyone on the same page, but now, thanks to improvements in investigative methodology, a cultural shift in attitudes toward victims, and advancements in technology, Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill says countless cases will finally be solved.
“These victims have not gotten the finality of their investigations. They have not had the follow-up needed,” Gill said about the large majority of survivors.
Gill says his team has been busy since earlier this year, when the legislature passed a mandate to test all sexual assault kits in Utah, including cold cases. So far, nearly 1,000 previously unsubmitted kits have been tested, and as investigators screen those, prosecutors are already filing charges.
“Of the 71 that have come back, we have reviewed and we have filed cases on nine of them,” Gill said.
The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) is just getting started.
Long term, the plan is to do away with the information phone line and implement an electronic system with the same resources — just online. Organizers say their goal is to have the electronic Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System up and running by July of 2018.
For now, DeVries will be available to take calls Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. She says you can also call any time and leave a voicemail.