Commission on the Standardization
For the Collection of Evidence
In Sexual Assault Investigations
Minutes of the Meeting of December 14, 2020
1. Attendance: Beth Hamilton (Executive Director for the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence), Kristin Sasinouski (State Forensic Lab), Marielle Daniels(Director of Regulatory Advocacy for the Connecticut Hospital Association), Denise Covington (Director of SAFE Program, which is an OVS program where nurses are trained on how to do examinations and evidence collection for sexual assault patients), Alaine Griffin (Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, Director of Communications), Nell Kolbier (CT Coalition to End Sexual Violence), Dr. John Leventhal (pediatrician, Yale New Haven Hospital), Rosemary Lopez (Senior Resource Coordinator, CWCS, Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors) State’s Attorney Maureen Platt (Waterbury), State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott (Hartford), Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Davis (New Haven), Lucy Nolan (Director of Policy at CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence), Dr. Karen Jubanyik (ER Physician), Monica Polzella (Investigation Supervisor at DCF), Brian Narkewicz (Sgt., CSP State Police), Dr. Lisa Pavlovic (Child Abuse Pediatrician at Yale New Haven Hospital, Patti Lamonica (Director of the Emergency Department at St. Francis)
2. Introduction of new Chairperson Hartford State's Attorney Sharmese Walcott: State’s Attorney Walcott introduced by State’s Attorney Platt. Attorney Walcott has immense experience in prosecution of sexual assault cases, and has been selected to be the new Chairperson of the Commission. Attorney Platt leaves the position after 11 years of service as Chairperson of the Commission.
3. Report of the Bill Paying Subcommittee: Linda Cimino unavailable; update tabled to March meeting.
4. Report on the SAFE Program: Covington gave report. Gave some background on the program which came into existence ten years ago, and was intended to be a state-wide response program to be utilized at all hospitals where sexual assault examinations were done., Covington states that COVID-19 had an impact
on the SAFE Program, which resulted in the Spring class (2020) being cancelled and the Fall class clinical training postposed, though the clinical training is in the process of being rescheduled. Covington says SAFE Program working on renegotiating ability to have training hours.
Covington also spoke about the revision to the technical guidelines. They have not been updated since 2017, and Covington says that they are outdated at this point. Covington stated that in 2017, the Commission worked in work groups to revise. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided to have a pause until further discussions could be made as a group.
Technical Guidelines Review Update: State’s Attorney Walcott has started to review the technical guidelines, and has decided to meet with each chair of each subcommittee to make sure that their individual section reads the way that the subcommittee intended it to, and to then read the technical guidelines as a whole to see if each section flows well together. Discussion regarding how to keep the guidelines helpful to the healthcare providers while also being user friendly was had. Discussed the possibly doing a tabbed booklet or a quick reference sheet in the beginning as well as checklists or FAQ pages. Improvements to the guidelines will continue following the finalization of the current review.
5. Discussion of the change to the Consent of Minors provision: State's Attorney Walcott discussed that there was already a vote on this, and the section should now be in the technical guidelines. Dr. Leventhal states that health care providers have been asking for this specific provision. Covington states that since the Commission voted on the updates, it should be published on the website. Daniels wants to incorporate the Consent to Minors provision into the current guidelines, because the law dictates that healthcare providers must follow the current guidelines. The Commission decided that the new consent to minors provision will be added into the guidelines revised in 2017, while the Commission is working on the 2020 revisions to the technical guidelines. Daniels requests putting a revision date on the website so it is known to website visitors that this provision was updated in 2020. It was decided to update this specific provision now despite the fact that the 2020 revisions have not been completed. Walcott lets the Commission know that she hopes to have the 2020 updates to the technical guidelines done and voted on during the March 2020 meeting.
6. Update on the kit tracking form: Sasinouski stated that there a few small corrections that need to be made to the SAKI form. Hamilton said there were some questions about anonymous kits versus kits where there was a police report created simultaneously. The Commission reviewed the language for the new
Anonymous section. Sasinouski and Daniels discussed printing extra barcodes to allow for nurses to not have to write the number in case there is a scrivener’s error. Hamilton wants the sentence stating “A victim is strongly encouraged to report the crime within the five year timeframe” to be removed. Hamilton does not think that this sentence is necessary, especially when coming from a survivor’s standpoint. Hamilton is not sure if this sentence was required by
legal. Platt states that many police departments do keep the kits longer than the statutorily required 5 years. Just because it is over 5 years, the police departments might still have the kits (and usually do). Narkewicz states that CSP does not need that sentence in the guidelines/form. The Statute of Limitations is discussed by Platt, and she explains to the Commission that the SOL starts when the crime is reported to the police department, as opposed to the five years.
Walcott proposes a vote to remove that sentence. Narkewicz makes a motion to remove that sentence for the next re-print if the form is already printed and in the kit, Hamilton seconds it. Passes unanimously. Sasinouski thought that the kit form was already in production, and as such Narkewicz’s motion will apply to forms printed going forward.
7. Any old business: None needed to be discussed.
8. Any new business: No one raised any.
9. Scheduling of meetings for 2021: State’s Attorney Walcott and the Commission decided to continue to meet quarterly. It is the third Monday of the month, except December which is the second Monday. Walcott will send out an email with those specific dates.