LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has issued a cease and desist order to the Brooklyn, New York-based company “MeToo Kits”, telling it to stop engaging in unlawful and potentially harmful business practices.
In a statement published on Thursday, Aug. 29, Nessel said her office learned of the company’s marketing the sales of a new, at-home sexual assault evidence collection kit.
In the notice of intended action given to the company, the AG’s office explains that MeToo Kits is in violation of several sections of Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act.
“We are very concerned about these sales and the representations made to induce them,” Nessel said.
She also warned that commercially produced “sexual assault kits” would not only cost victims their own money but would prevent them from getting the health care services they need, following an assault.
The attorney general is also concerned that the kits would undermine law enforcement investigations of sexual assaults, and hinder the capture, charging, trial and conviction of unknown and repeat rapists.
“This company is shamelessly trying to take financial advantage of the ‘Me Too’ movement by luring victims into thinking that an at-home-do-it-yourself sexual assault kit will stand up in court,” Nessel said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Career prosecutors know that evidence collected in this way would not provide the necessary chain of custody.
“And it is unlikely any private lab would have access to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System, a national DNA data base created and maintained by the FBI), which would significantly limit the ability to identify unknown perpetrators or repeat offenders.”
The company boasts several advantages of the kits to victims.
“With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator’s involvement with sexual assault,” MeToo Kit’s website proclaims.
For those seeking medical attention for sexual assaults in Michigan, sexual assault evidence collection kits are free within 120 hours of an assault. The evidence kit is included in a sexual assault medical forensic examination, which by law is provided at no charge to the victim.
Victims of sexual assault need a medical examination after the assault has occurred. According to the AG’s office, the marketing of an at-home evidence collection kit assumes that the collection is only important for evidentiary purposes at trial.
Victims can be treated for injuries during the medical exam and provided medications for the treatment and prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
During a medical forensic exam, qualified professionals also take photographs, document injuries and perform a detailed anatomical investigation in an appropriate setting.
“There is absolutely no benefit here for victims,” Nessel said. “In addition, some of the pitches the company is making actually demonize the process that allows the justice system to work. A victim should never be discouraged from reporting an assault and seeking the professional care he or she needs.”
The company has 10 days to assure voluntary compliance and agree not to sell the kits in Michigan.