Being sexually assaulted, in pain and not knowing where to turn is a frightening scenario for anyone. It is what one woman went through after being raped in her home last year.
She went to the Hospital to get a rape kit exam and says hospital staff would not allow that test to happen. That is why she is filing a lawsuit.
“I was injured, I had bruises, and I wanted to make sure I was ok,” the unidentified victim said. Now she wants to make sure other survivors do not have the same experience she had when she went to the Hospital two days after being raped.
“We spoke to a nurse who told us we could not get the sexual assault exam unless she pressed charges,” said a witness, who went to the hospital with the victim. “She gave us paperwork that said the same thing, and then the doctor came in with the same paperwork; gave it to us again.”
The paperwork was an information sheet for sexual assault victims from October of 2005. It says that you must make a report to law enforcement before a forensic exam will be conducted. The problem is that law was changed June 19, 2009, and no longer applies.
“Healthcare facilities need to know and follow the law,” said a spokesman from the Civil Rights Project. “They cannot deny people sexual assault exams. We are filing this lawsuit today so that the hospital does follow this law.”
According to the state law, a rape survivor has a right to an exam within four days of the assault, even if they do not plan to press charges at that time. The state keeps that evidence for two years.The exam documents evidence of the rape and is an important tool for law enforcement. It is a tool the victim filing this lawsuit says would have helped her bring her attacker to justice.
“If I would have known…now I’m pressing charges and I don’t think anything’s going to happen to him,” she said. “It makes me feel as hopeless as I did when I walked in that hospital.” The woman did eventually file charges, but her assailant is still at large.
The Hospital released a written statement late Monday afternoon. The hospital says it cannot discuss specific details of the case due to federal privacy laws. It goes on to say: “We are confident that the physicians and staff at the hospital followed the appropriate procedures as outlined by the Department of State Health Services and that we are fully compliant with all state regulations.”
If you or someone you know has been a vctim of an assault call my offices located in Rockville or Baltimore for a free initial consultation at 1-800-320-0080 or make an appointment for a confidential cosultation.