“Gail’s Law” hopes to create a statewide database to track DNA evidence in sexual assault cases

By: - April 6, 2021 2:48 pm

The Florida House of Representatives. Credit: CD Davidson-Hiers

Gail’s Law, a measure that would provide the status of “rape kits” for evidence to survivors of sexual assaults and rape, is on its way to the House floor in the Florida Legislature.

The legislation would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create a statewide database to track the processing status and location of  rape kits, so victims would be able to access the information to keep track of their case.

Both the House and Senate are pursuing the legislation this session. If both chambers approve, the bill will go to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. The House bill has already gotten approval from several committees. The Senate bill, sponsored by Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, has cleared one committee.

House sponsor Emily Slosberg, a Democrat who represents part of Palm Beach County, said in a virtual press conference Tuesday: “No one should have to watch their attacker escape justice because evidence from a sexual assault kit was lost or not processed.”

The legislation is named after Gail Gardner, whose tragic story of sexual assault went on for decades without answers. According to a press release on the bill, Gardner was raped by a home intruder at knifepoint in 1988. After the assault, Gardner consented to do a sexual assault forensic exam.

But the results of her “rape kit” would not be tested for over 30 years. Gardner told the virtual press conference that the years of not knowing was filled with anxiety. When the results finally came in, in November of last year, the man who raped Gardner was already in prison for a different sexual assault.

“I spent 33 years in fear, not knowing where the rapist was,” Gardner said at the virtual press conference. “Survivors deserve to have information about their rape kits.”

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.