Just for reference...
Knowles signs sexual assault bill
JO C. GOODE / The Frontiersman / May 23, 2000
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles recently signed legislation protecting victims of sexual assault from being billed for tests to collect evidence of the crime, but one local police chief said the new law will further burden taxpayers.
The governor signed House Bill 270, sponsored by Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, outside the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam room at Alaska Regional Hospital. In attendance at the signing were members of victims advocate groups, law enforcement agencies and legislators.
The new law makes it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims insurance companies for the costs of examinations that take place to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault did occur.
We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence, Knowles said. Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.
While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.
Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.
In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.
According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.
Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.
The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. Id like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things, Fannon said.
Fannon said he intends to include the cost of exams required to collect evidence in a restitution request as a part of a criminals sentencing.
Palmer police chief Laren Zager said that to his knowledge, no sexual assault victim has ever been billed by the city of Palmer for an exam to collect evidence of a crime. Zager, who has been police chief since January, said he would never expect a victim to be burdened with the cost of a police investigation.
Im prepared to pay every dime in an investigation. As long as I am chief, I would never bill a victim, Zager said.
The new bill would also make law enforcement agencies that are investigating a sexual assault responsible for the costs of testing victims for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception.
She [Sarah Palin - ShV] was a member of the Wasilla, Alaska, city council from 1992 to 1996 and mayor from 1996 to 2002.
Crime in Wasilla per year: rapes. 2001: 2, 2002: 2, 2003: 1, 2004: 1