Lavinia Masters, Founder of S.A.V.E.(Sexual Abuse Victim Empowering) Ministry in Dallas, Texas has been invited to participate in a Roundtable Focus Group sponsored by the National Center for Victims of Crime on February 16 in Washington, D.C.
The topic of discussion is the backlog of sexual assault kit processing and how the situation can improve the across the country. An estimated 180,000 kits completed each year whose potential evidence, which could validate a woman’s claims, identify an attacker or exonerate a suspect, loiters on shelves and in warehouses. In Lavinia Masters’ case, she waited 20 years to receive the results after being raped as a young girl, finally learning the identity of her attacker and the fact that she was not the only one he assaulted.
Results of a sexual assault, or rape kit are an important component towards justice for the victim, and communities as a whole. As in the case of Masters, her perpetrator went on to assault again, and Masters suffered through 20 years waiting for justice. Without forensic evidence, juries question the case and the prosecution, even though the evidence may exist, juries don’t understand that where a rape kit has been performed, why it’s not in the courtroom. With increased DNA technology, the results of a rape kit are often times what a case hinges on to convict an offender.
Lavinia Masters has worked vigorously for changes in legislation, written books and poetry, and advocates for victims within her community and across the country. She facilitates a support group, S.A.S.S.I. (Sexual Abuse Survivor Support Initiative), for men and women who are victims of sexual abuse, molestation and incest. She has appeared numerous times on local and national news outlets commenting on the need for prompt DNA testing results for all sexual assault victims. Lavinia’s ministry is one of awareness, education and healing.
In February, 2011, Masters made a trip to South Africa. The invitation was extended by Chris Asplen, Vice President of International Public Affairs for Gordon Thomas Honeywell and consultant and speaker on forensic technologies, particularly DNA. Asplen is also the Executive Director for the non-profit, DNA4Africa.
Along with Lavinia Masters and representatives from the National Center for Victims of Crime, dignitaries from the Office on Violence Against Women, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the National Institute of Justice will be on hand, all who have long-standing commitments to ending the sexual assault kit backlog.
- Rape Victim Sues Harvey Over Untested Rape Kit (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- What’s In A Rape Evidence Collection Kit? (forensics4fiction.wordpress.com)
- State DNA Lab Backlog Eliminated, Attorney General Kamala Harris Says (blogs.sfweekly.com)