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AG Nessel Blasts "Me Too" Sexual Assault Kits
August 29, 2019
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today warned the Brooklyn, New York-based “Me Too Kits” Company that it is in violation of several sections of Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act. A Notice of Intended Action was sent today, giving the company an opportunity to immediately cease and desist from engaging in unlawful business practices.
Nessel’s office learned yesterday that Me Too Kits Company is marketing for sale a sexual assault evidence kit, described as the “first ever sexual assault evidence kit for at-home use.”
“We are very concerned about these sales and the representations made to induce them,” said Nessel.
Nessel 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. In addition, the DIY kits would likely undermine law enforcement efforts to capture, charge, try and convict rapists – especially unknown and repeat assailants.
“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,” said Nessel. “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.”
Sexual assault evidence collection kits are free in Michigan to those who seek medical attention for sexual assault within 120 hours of the assault. The evidence kit is included in a sexual assault medical forensic examination, which by law is provided at no charge to the victim.
The Me Too Kits Company’s “evidence kit” does not address the health needs of many sexual assault survivors, assuming instead that the only reason for collection is for evidentiary purposes at trial. However, a medical exam is significantly important because it can identify and treat injuries and provide medications for the prevention and treatment of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and injuries. In addition, medical professionals also help victims identify resources for emotional support. Medical forensic exams also involve taking photographs, documenting injuries, and conducting a thorough anatomical investigation by a qualified professional in an appropriate setting.
As the letter states, the Attorney General has probable cause to believe Me Too Kits Company is engaged in several unfair trade practices made unlawful by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, including:
- Representing that services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not.
- Causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction.
- Failing to reveal a material fact, the omission of what tends to mislead or deceive the consumer and which in fact could not reasonably be known to the consumer.
- Failing to reveal facts that are material to the transaction in light of representations of fact made in a positive manner.
“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 in which to provide the Office of the Attorney General with assurances of voluntary compliance, which must include an agreement that the company will not sell these sexual assault kits to Michigan consumers.
In the meantime, the Attorney General’s office is filing a petition in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking authority to issue investigative subpoenas.
“This is an extremely important consumer and public safety matter and we will pursue it accordingly,” said Nessel.
A copy of the letter is available here.