The Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI) will continue even after all previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAK), that have been designated for testing, have been tested.
In addition to processing all previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits, the WiSAKI team has been preparing criminal justice professionals across the state to review cold case sexual assault investigations after the testing results are received. The team has also been conducting case reviews on an ongoing basis as tesing results are returned, in conjunction with local law enforcement and district attorney's offices.
Over the course of many months local and state criminal justice professionals will be working with victims and will determine whether this new evidence may result in reopening cases and possible prosecution of sexual predators.
After a kit has been tested, the results of each kit undergo a thorough technical review by analysts at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory (WSCL). Once results are confirmed by the WSCL, the WSCL notifies the local law enforcement agency, and in some cases the WiSAKI team at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), of the results.
There are four types of sexual assault kit test results, each prompting a different response by criminal justice professionals:
- A foreign DNA profile was obtained from the DNA testing of the SAK, the profile was uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and the profile matched against another profile within CODIS.
- A foreign DNA profile was obtained from the DNA testing of the SAK, the profile met the FBI’s eligibility criteria and was uploaded into CODIS but the profile has not yet matched against another profile within CODIS.
- A foreign DNA profile was obtained from the DNA testing of the SAK but the profile did not meet the FBI’s eligibility criteria and could not be uploaded into CODIS.
- DNA testing of the SAK either indicated no DNA or only DNA from the victim or test results were inconclusive.
To learn more about these types of results, and how criminal justice professionals respond to each, click on the graphics below.
Survivor notification is a crucial time and step in responding to WiSAKI cases. Survivor notification is an opportunity for survivors to choose if they want to re-engage in the criminal justice system. Equally crucial is that survivor notification is completed with as much background information as possible to be better equipped to answer survivor's questions and not rushed in order to provide survivors as much time as they need.
The DOJ WiSAKI Survivor Notification Protocol offers suggestions on how to complete victim notification and discusses what is considered to be best practice. Best practices include being flexible with the survivor, being trauma-informed and victim-centered, respecting the survivor’s decisions, and having resources available to the survivor.
For more information about the survivor notification protocol, click here.
Investigation and Prosecution
After test results are returned, the WSCL notifies the submitting agency, and in some cases the WiSAKI team at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), of the results.
Local and state multi-disciplinary teams (which may include prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates) work together to review the testing results and the case for a decision regarding reopening and victim notification. The WiSAKI team offers resources and assistance in all cases and will strongly recommend a case review by local law enforcement with local sexual assault response teams.
Local law enforcement and prosecutors make the final determination whether the case will be re-opened. In some cases, DOJ can and will take referrals from local law enforcement and district attorneys and investigate or prosecute. However, DOJ does not have original jurisdiction in these cases, so will only do so upon request or approval of the local district attorney.
Criminal justice professionals can finding training resources for investigating, prosecuting, and researching sexual assault from the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.