Sexual Assault Evidence Collection
All victims have a right to have a forensic exam completed. Individuals may receive a forensic exam by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (also called a "SANE" nurse.) SANE Exams are completed locally at the Portage Hospital Emergency Department located in Hancock, MI.
Portage Hospital Emergency Department
500 Campus Drive
Hancock, MI 49930
SANE Nurses assess injuries, treat sexually transmitted diseases or infections, possible pregnancy, and provide medical care. Within the first 120 hours following a sexual assault, a SANE Nurse can administer a sexual assault forensic exam. (See Michigan Legislature for Sexual Assault Evidence Collection.) Forensic exams are provided at no cost to victims and do not charge to a victim's insurance plan (See Michigan Legislature Crime Victim Compensation Board Act.)
During the examination, a SANE Nurse collects evidence of sexual assault or physical trauma (including injuries to the body and genitals), and collects biological fluids. In the event that it is believed that a sexual assault is facilitated by alcohol or drugs, a SANE Nurse may also collect a urine sample or blood sample for toxicology testing.
Below are additional tips and information regarding SANE exams and evidence preservation:
- To preserve evidence, it is recommended that you do not bathe, shower, douche, eat, drink, smoke, brush your teeth, urinate, defecate, or change clothes before receiving medical attention. Even if you have already taken any of these actions, you are still encouraged to have prompt medical care, and evidence may still be recoverable. If going to the hospital for a SANE exam, it may be helpful to bring an extra set of clothing in the event that clothing is collected as evidence.
- Typically, if police are involved or will be involved, they will obtain evidence from the scene, and it is best to leave things undisturbed until their arrival. Police may gather bedding, linens or unlaundered clothing, and any other pertinent articles that may be used for evidence. It is best to allow police to secure items in evidence containers, but if you are involved in transmission of items of evidence, such as to the hospital, secure them in a clean paper bag or clean sheet to avoid contamination. Plastic bags or containers are not recommended.
- If physical injuries are present, photograph or have them photographed, with a date stamp on the photo. SANE Nurses have equipment to photograph injuries.
- Record the names of any witnesses and their contact information. This information may be helpful as proof of a crime, to obtain an order of protection, or to offer proof of a campus policy violation.
- Try to memorize details (e.g., physical description, names, license plate number, car description, etc.), or write notes of details.
- If you obtain external orders of protection (e.g., personal protection orders, injunctions, protection from abuse), please notify the local police department, Public Safety and Police Services and/or the Title IX Coordinator so that those orders can be observed on campus. The Title IX Coordinator may provide interim and supportive measures such as a no contact order.
Victims may have a support person of their choosing while undergoing a SANE examination. Dial Help, Inc. is a local agency that provides victim advocates through their Victim Services Unit. Victim Advocates respond to the hospital and meet with the victim. Victims can choose whether they want support from an advocate at no cost.
Dial Help, Inc.
609 Shelden Ave
Houghton, MI 49931
Crisis Call: 800-562-7622 or 906-482-HELP
Crisis Text: 35NEEDS (906-356-3337)
Dial Help, inc. provides free advocacy and counseling to victims and their friends or family members who are have experienced or are affected by a sexual assault. Dial Help also offers support groups for victims or survivors of sexual assault. Contact Paige with questions at 482-9077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals are not required to report an incident to law enforcement or the University in order to have a forensic exam completed. Click here for reporting options.
Sexual assault evidence kits are required to be stored for one year by a health care provider. The healthcare provider may not share the evidence kit with law enforcement or test it unless a victim signs a form to release the kit to law enforcement. If a victim decides to report to police, the victim may release their kit to law enforcement. Victims may file a police report without releasing their kit to law enforcement. Once a victim releases their kit to law enforcement, law enforcement is required to take possession of the kit within 14 days. (See Michigan Legislation for Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Submission Act.) The kit is then taken to a crime lab for forensic testing. Victims or survivors may track their kit through the state of Michigan's Track-Kit sexual assault evidence kit tracking system. Under Michigan Law, sexual assault victims have the right to know:
- When the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (kit) was sent to a crime lab for testing
- Whether a DNA profile (DNA evidence) was obtained from the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit
- Whether a DNA profile was entered into CODIS (a case evidence database)
- Whether a DNA profile resulted in a CODIS hit.