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An Idaho sheriff isn’t sure why the state is so hellbent on creating a system to collect and track rape kits, since most rape accusations are false. Oh. Oh, good.
Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland was reacting to a proposed bill, HB 528, which would create what Rep. Melissa Wintrow, who introduced the bill, describes as a “minimal standard” for rape kits. It requires that the Idaho State Police Forensic Services Laboratory test all of them, creates new timelines for how long the police have to send and test them, and sets up a victim notification service so that survivors know where their kit has gone and what’s happening to it.
But that’s unnecessary, Sheriff Rowland argued, since people are probably lying.
“I really believe the Legislature needs to take a strong look at allowing law enforcement to do their job and not try to dictate what we need to do. I think they’re trying to help, I really do,” Rowland told news station KIDK earlier this week.
That said, he added, “They need to let us decide if we’re going to send the kit and when we send the kits in. Because the majority of our rapes— not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do—but the majority of our rapes that are called in, are actually consensual sex. “
Rowland was helped along by Natalie Shaver, the News 8 reporter who interviewed him, and who didn’t, uh, challenge a single word of this.
“Rowland says after interviewing an alleged rape victim, police often find it was not actually rape. Things just went too far and someone got scared,” Shaver reported (“reported”).
Rowland’s example was a hypothetical 17-year-old girl who wasn’t raped, but had “consensual sex with her boyfriend” and then decided to call the cops instead of telling her parents she’d had sex. Sure. Yes. He also said, per Shaver, that the rape kit itself is “not taken lightly” since it’s “very traumatic” to undergo.
A lot of people are now rather irritated with Rowland, the Associated Press reports, including Wintrow, who wrote the bill:
Rep. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat from Boise who introduced the bill, said the sheriff’s remarks were harmful to women.
“Many times people are focused on a woman’s behavior, and the victim’s response,” she said, “when we should be thinking about what are we teaching men in this society. What are we teaching young boys and men about how we should not initiate or cross any physical boundary without consent.”
Rowland, meanwhile, wrote on Facebook that he’s sorry if you were offended:
I want to clarify what I was trying to say when I did the press story yesterday. I in no way was saying that we do not have rapes that occur in our County. I was trying to say that when a call is called into dispatch it is initially put in as a rape. Officers and investigators are sent to investigate all of the sexual assaults in Bingham County and after the investigation is complete some of these cases are found out to be consensual sex and not a rape. These kits are not sent to the State lab for processing. I apologize if I have offended anyone as that was not my intention.
Here’s the full clip:
Screenshot via KIDK/Big Time-Small Time Dicks Logo by staff male Bobby Finger.