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Bill bans charges for collecting sexual assault evidence

Posted: Thursday, April 13, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill that bans health care providers from charging sexual assault victims or their insurance companies for the cost of collecting crime evidence was approved by the state House on Wednesday.

Sponsor Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, said insurance companies of some sexual assault or abuse victims have been billed for the cost of collecting physical evidence as part of a police investigation. The expense can be $500 to $1,000.

''It's not common but it comes up every single year,'' Croft said.

In sexual assault cases, Croft said, the victim's body is the crime scene. Victims are tested and photographed. Investigators take their clothes as evidence and samples of hair and fluids, Croft said.

Croft said Alaska State Troopers always pay for the cost of taking physical samples in the cases and most police departments routinely pay the expense. However, at least one Alaska hospital acknowledged billing an insurer to recover costs, Croft said, and some police departments may pressure them to do so.

''I think there is a tendency to say, 'Run it by her health insurer and if they don't pay it, we will,''' Croft' said.

Croft said getting billed for an official investigation adds to the pain of a person already traumatized.

Croft said victims of burglaries and other crimes are never sent bills for a police investigation and victims of sexual assault should not be billed either.

House Bill 270 was approved 37-0 but could come up for another vote Thursday.



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