For survivors of sexual assault, years may pass before trauma is processed and justice sought.
Until now, New York state had the nation’s shortest mandate for storing evidence of sexual offenses including rape. Under the recently adopted state budget, the required storage time of such evidence extends from 30 days to 20 years — giving investigators more time to access that evidence and make sure it is available for survivors to get justice.
“It’s a tremendous step forward for victims,” said Sarah Utter, Ontario County victim witness coordinator, adding it can take years for a victim to be able to report the abuse.
“We have seen in the history of the Catholic Church where folks did not report until 20, 30, 40 years later,” Utter said. “That is something people need to do when they are ready. And we have to respect their process of trauma.”
Ensuring evidence remains available for 20 years is “a phenomenal effort and growth in the victims’ rights movement,” Utter said.
Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts talked about the effects of trauma.