At-home rape kit makers respond to cease-and-desist

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two companies marketing self-administered rape kits have responded to cease-and-desist letters sent by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, arguing that they believe there’s a legitimate market for their products among some sexual assault victims.

Hunter’s office says it’s reviewing the correspondence and an investigation is ongoing, The Oklahoman reported.

New Jersey-based The Preserve Group LLC and New York City-based MeToo Kits Company marketed the kits with the intention of home use by women who don’t want to report assaults to the police but still want the option of collecting evidence for future use, if needed.

Law enforcement officials, victims’ advocates and others have raised concerns about the at-home practice, saying these kits are an inadequate replacement for a forensic medical exam.

The cease-and-desist letters say at-home rape kits break Oklahoma’s consumer protection laws and wouldn’t be admissible in court.

Hunter gave both companies 10 days to provide his office with “assurance of voluntary compliance,” including an agreement that they will not sell their products in Oklahoma. Attorneys general in several states have sent similar letters.

Founders of both companies have said their goal is to empower survivors of sexual assault, not to discourage them from going to the police. Jane Mason, co-founder of The Preserve Group, argues that the evidence collected by the victims is just as admissible as evidence collected by law enforcement.

Both companies claim they are working to “constructively and deliberately” address the marketing concerns raised, however neither have directly said they would refrain from selling their products. As of now, MeToo’s kits are not for sale and the Preserve kit is listed online as “currently unavailable.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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