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Under Mayor Palin, Wasilla charged victims for rape kits

September 12, 2008|From the Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the city billed sexual assault victims and their insurance companies for the cost of rape kits and forensic examinations.

Palin had been in office for four years when the practice got the attention of state lawmakers in 2000. They passed a bill to stop it.

Former Democratic Rep. Eric Croft, who sponsored the bill, said he was disappointed that simply asking the Wasilla Police Department to stop hadn't worked.

The bill passed despite the objections of Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon, who said it would require the city to come up with more money to cover the costs of buying the rape kits and conducting the exams.

Lawmakers became involved in 2000 after reports began coming in that police departments were charging sexual assault victims for the kits and exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 at the time. The kit, a package of sample containers, swabs and other medical supplies, is used to collect evidence from women after they are attacked.

Then-Gov. Tony Knowles said Thursday that Wasilla was unique in the state in charging rape victims for costs incurred by law enforcement in trying to solve the crime.

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the campaign of Palin and John McCain, said that Palin "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."

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