The 128th Legislature is now reviewing L.D. 169, An Act to Protect Sexual Assault Survivors, with additional protections for alleged victims of gross sexual assault. This is an extremely important piece of legislation that should pass.

The bill requires law enforcement to provide written information to a victim concerning their right to undergo a forensic examination, receive the results of the examination, and dispose of the results when and how they wish. The results of the examination include toxicology and DNA information of the alleged perpetrator. Additionally, this bill requires that law enforcement retain the forensic report results for up to 60 days, and longer only if indicated by the victim.

Alongside the legal reasons that this bill should pass, there are numerous personal reasons as well. All alleged victims will immediately know what their options are regarding obtaining a forensic exam. Toxicology and DNA results will likely enhance victims’ court cases. The results will empower and give a sense of control back to the victim, who was so wrongfully stripped of those feelings. And law enforcement is currently mandated to keep records indefinitely, so the newly-posed timeframe for keeping records will be more productive.

These four reasons, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Your voice will count in passing the bill. We encourage you to write or call the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Colleen Madigan.

Paige Moore, Portland

Kayla Hamel, Lewiston

Masters of Social Work students

University of New England