The Oklahoma Attorney General and the state's Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Task Force announced their decision to take on two national companies at a press conference.
Attorney General Mike Hunter reports that he has issued a consumer report and cease and desist order directed at The Preserve Group LLC and MeToo Kits companies.
“Two companies, the MeToo Company and Preserve Kit were fraudulently marketing at home sexual assault forensic evidence kits in Oklahoma,” said AG Hunter. “We see no value in these products whatsoever.”
Both of those businesses market rape test kits to potential victims.
Advocates at the meeting said the products are misleading, because they can’t be used as evidence. Instead, they ask victims to report their cases to law enforcement officials, and medical professionals.
“If our victims are going out and collecting their own evidence…Unfortunately, that is not something we will be able to accept,” said Special Victim's Unit Sgt. Jillian Phippen of the Tulsa Police Department.
She added that often times the at-home kits miss evidence professionals could identify. In those cases, DNA could be lost forever.
AG Hunter said kits have been documented on a couple of college campuses.
Currently, it does not appear that these kits have been over to police in Oklahoma.
However, the taskforce wants to emphasize they are being proactive about their approach.
As for the cease and desist orders, AG Hunter said both companies have 10 days to respond, and to stop selling kits in Oklahoma.
Should the companies refuse, AG Hunter said further action will be taken.
One survivor was brave enough to share her story Thursday afternoon.
“I had no idea the sorry I would experience in the days ahead, said Danielle Tudor, a rape survivor. “This new technology cannot take the place of the individual who collected the evidence from my kit.”
Victims who use state resources don't have to pay for their kit, and they receive medical care if desired. They are also able to track the status of their rape-kit online.
The private kits are sold in a private market through the various providers.
Thursday’s news conference did address Oklahoma's rape kit back log, in which a state audit initially cited over "7,000" kits were left in "law enforcement evidence rooms.”
The taskforce understands victims could see numbers as discouraging, but said under new laws, agencies are now required to submit kits within 20 days, and store them as evidence for 50 years.
News 9 reached out to Preserve Group LLC., the company sent the following statement:
As for the MeToo Kit, the website is down. A Google search shows another cease and desist letter from the state of Michigan.