It’s Your Money: Cost of compensating sexual assault victims

Cost of a sexual assault kit

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – A single sexual assault kit only costs around $7 before evidence is collected, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

SLED stocks around 300 police agencies across the state with the kits.

A spokesperson for SLED said the agency spends around $15,000 a year on 2,000 kits. It said this money is included in its annual budget.

SLED was unable to provide an estimate on how much testing a single kit costs but the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit organization, estimates it costs an average of $1,000.

The state also provides funding for eligible sexual assault victims.

The Department of Crime Victim Compensation out of the Office for the Attorney General can pay victims of violent crimes up to $15,000 for medical expenses, counseling services, lost wages and burial expenses.

Since July, the department has spent $792,000 on 2,100 payments related to the forensic exam victims undergo following an assault.

The department covers nurses and interviewer’s time, lab costs, medicine and rental spaces to do the exam.

Seventy percent of the money was used to pay for adult sexual assault victims.

“This funding is derived from a combination of fines and fees collected in summary and circuit courts from offenders and matched with funds from fines and civil judgments collected in the federal courts,” said Burke Fitzpatrick, the director of the state’s Crime Victim Services Division.

The department has already spent around $70,000 more on these services than the 2018 fiscal year.

The department also receives funding from federal grants administrated through the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fitzpatrick explained the grant money is used to fund forensic interviewers at Child Advocacy Centers, sexual assault nurse examiners, and other medical personnel.

These positions are funded specifically at the Medical University of South Carolina, Palmetto Health, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and 15 child advocacy centers across the state.

The state uses $3.2 million to fund 60 positions.

If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault or another crime, find out if you qualify to receive any services from the state: http://sova.sc.gov/faq.html.

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