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caption: EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, WA has a sexual assault clinic staffed with a nurse examiner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One of the things they found, is that survivors would have to remain in the clothes they were attacked for hours before an exam and then had to leave in those same clothes.
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EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, WA has a sexual assault clinic staffed with a nurse examiner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One of the things they found, is that survivors would have to remain in the clothes they were attacked for hours before an exam and then had to leave in those same clothes.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Esmy Jimenez

WA AG orders DIY rape kit company to stop sales in the state

The Washington State Attorney General's Office has issued a cease-and-desist letter to the company Leda Health regarding its marketing and distribution of so-called "early evidence" rape kits and its suite of services.

Earlier this year, Leda Health partnered with the Kappa Delta sorority at the University of Washington to hand out the self-administered DNA Kits to its members and other students.

Leda health has marked their DIY rape kits as a alternative option to sexual assault kits conducted in a hospital setting.

RELATED: DIY rape kits are gaining popularity on college campuses. But are they reliable?

Laura Clinton is the division chief for the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General's Office. She says “it's really the message that they're sending to the survivor community. It’s deeply problematic and just wrong.”

Clinton says Leda's claims that its kits collect "evidence" could lead people to think they're equal to or the same as the sexual assault evidence kits that are administered in a medical setting.

Officials also noted that health professionals are trained to make sure the kits are not cross-contaminated, and are also taught how to collect evidence — both physical and oral — that will stand up in court. Additionally, self-administered commercially sold kits have rarely, if ever, been introduced in a Washington state court, according to the letter.

Clinton also alleges that Leda Health violated the state's Consumer Protection Act, in part because it reportedly charges consumers for its early evidence kits.

“Their marketing, includes statements about the cost of medical care, following a sexual assault, and how that can those costs can really add up and be prohibitive,” said Clinton. “But in our state, under law, you have the right to free medical care from a licensed and well trained provider.”

In a statement, Leda Health said the company is reviewing the letter with its legal team and is hoping to find a way to continue the partnership with the Kappa Delts Sorority.

“Within our current partnership, we provide a suite of important services in addition to EEKs, including emergency contraception, a 24/7 virtual care team, and educational programming to students, such as programming specifically on date rape drugs,” the statement reads. The company also stated that taking such resources from the sorority during the so-called “red zone,” the window between the start of fall semester and Thanksgiving when most campus sexual assaults occur, “would be more than disappointing and limit access to these important offerings.”

In a previous interview with KUOW, Leda health called professionally administered rape kits as “the golden standard”. On its website, the company says, “Leda Health always encourages assault survivors to seek in-person emergency care.” The company describes itself as being “here to support survivors where the traditional systems don’t.”

This story was updated on Friday, Nov. 4 at 4:13 to include comment from Leda Health.”