Palin and rape-kit charges

PALIN AND RAPE-KIT CHARGES…. Responding to the story about Sarah Palin charging rape victims for medical exams, Atrios noted today, “I actually haven’t mentioned this story because there were a few details I wasn’t quite sure about so I wasn’t sure if it’s as bad as it sounded.”

I was thinking the exact same thing. There just had to be more to this, some exculpatory information that didn’t make Palin sound awful. The Anchorage Daily News looked into the matter and, as it turns out, the policy really was that bad.

[Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D)] broke new ground while answering a reporter’s question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor. True, Knowles said.

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill — signed into law by Knowles — that banned the practice statewide.

“There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla,” Knowles said

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla’s newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

“(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests,” the newspaper reported.

What’s more, USA Today reported that the state sponsor of the legislation on rape kits wrote the bill with Wasilla in mind. It was that one small town, in other words, that necessitated statewide legislation to protect rape victims from this absurd fee.

A Palin spokesperson, contacted by USA Today, said the governor “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test.”

That’s good, but there’s still the record to deal with. The town of Wasilla had rape victims to pay for their own medical exams during Palin’s mayoral tenure, and Palin’s hand-picked police chief publicly opposed the state law when it was passed in 2000.

Asked when Palin learned of the policy, and what Palin did to try to change the policy, her spokesperson chose not to respond.