Just Standardizing Sexual Assault Kits

Just Standardizing Sexual Assault Kits

Original Release Date: September 24, 2021

In episode eleven of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Maureen Platt, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury, CT, Denise Covington, Program Manager at the Gail Burns-Smith Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s Program, Danielle Lindgren, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Coordinator and Forensic Science Examiner, and Bonnie Bentley, Senior Assistant State's Attorney in Connecticut, to discuss standardizing sexual assault kits.

The standardization of sexual assault kits limits variability in the collection and processing of different cases, allowing for more reliable evidence-gathering by those who investigate these crimes. Listen along as this expert panel from Connecticut, a state that has achieved success in standardizing sexual assault kits, discusses how they have improved the efficacy of investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. 

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Guest Biography

Maureen Platt has served as the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury since 2011. She served as the Chairperson for the Commission on the Standardization of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations from 2009-2020.

Denise S. Covington (MBA, MSN, RN, SANE-A) is a board-certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for Adults and Adolescents, with a background in emergency nursing. In 2010, Ms. Covington was hired by the Connecticut Judicial Branch, Office of Victim Services to develop, implement and manage a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) Program for the purpose of ensuring skilled, professional and trauma-informed treatment of patients who report a sexual assault within Connecticut’s acute care hospitals. Ms. Covington is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), and served as the organization’s 2020 President.

Danielle Lindgren joined the CT Division of Scientific Services in December 2018 as a member of the DNA unit. Since that time she has served as the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Site Coordinator as well as the point of contact for Sexual Assault case communication for the Forensic Biology and DNA Units.  As the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Site Coordinator, Danielle and has overseen the collection and collation of all project data and metrics to report to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Working Group.  This includes the oversight of outreach, training and community education for law enforcement, prosecutors and victim’s advocates on current policies and procedures surrounding sexual assault cases. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Forensic Science from Syracuse University.

Bonnie R. Bentley is a Senior Assistant State’s Attorney with the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice. From 1993 through 2003, in addition to her work as a prosecutor, Attorney Bentley led the work of the Commission on the Standardization of Evidence Collection in Sexual Assault Investigations, including the development of Connecticut’s first customized sexual assault evidence kit and forms, Technical Guidelines for Health Care Response to Victims of Sexual Assault, and training materials. Attorney Bentley’s prosecution work has focused on sexual assault, domestic violence, arson, and animal cruelty cases.

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