7th Annual SART Summit Recap


7th Annual SART Summit: A Multi-Disciplinary Conference
September 4-6, 2018
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina,
San Diego, California

California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center (CCFMTC) in conjunction with the California District Attorney Association (CDAA) held the 7th annual multi-disciplinary SART Summit conference in San Diego, California. During the conference, inspirational speakers from different disciplines were represented. The following topics were discussed: Reducing Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation, Start by Believing: Improving Responses-One Disclosure at a Time, A Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Research: Epidemiological Data from Over 5,000 Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exams, updated CAL OES 2-923 Forensic Medical Report Form from the Field, Sexual Assault Updates and Victim-Centered initiatives, Preparing for a New Day: National Trends, Innovative Approaches, and National Developments.

Participants from various fields attended the conference: 57 prosecutors; 68 law enforcement officers; 24 criminalists; 65 SAFE/SANE examiners; 3 mental health specialists; 2 military personnel; 5 social services, and outreach program specialist for total of 330 participants. This multi-disciplinary conference included SART Team representatives from 42 counties in California.

The conference accomplished its goals to inform attendees about the field’s current practices, ensure networking opportunities, and provide information and guidance about meeting new challenges in the field.


An important piece of legislation authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-East Bay), AB 1517, was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2014. Through this bill, Penal Code section 680—also known as the Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA Bill of Rights—was amended to modify standards of practice by encouraging law enforcement agencies assigned to investigate specified sexual assault offenses to perform DNA testing of rape kits or other crime scene evidence in a timely manner. It also expanded the rights of sexual assault victims. The general concepts of amended PC 680 are:

Law enforcement agencies have two options regarding sexual assault forensic evidence collected:

  1. Submit sexual assault forensic evidence to the crime laboratory within 20 days after it is booked into evidence; or,
  2. Ensure that a rapid-turnaround DNA program is in place to submit forensic evidence collected from the victim of a sexual assault directly from the medical facility where the victim is examined to the crime lab within five (5) days after the evidence is obtained from the victim.

For sexual assault forensic evidence, the crime laboratory must do one of the following for any sexual assault forensic evidence received by the crime lab on or after January 1, 2016:

  1. Process sexual assault forensic evidence, create DNA profiles when able, and upload qualifying DNA profiles into CODIS as soon as practically possible, but no later than 120 days after initially receiving the evidence.
  2. Transmit the sexual assault forensic evidence to another crime lab as soon as practically possible, but no later than 30 days after initially received the evidence, for processing of the evidence for the presence of DNA. If a DNA profile is created, the transmitting crime lab should upload the profile into CODIS as soon as practically possible, but no longer than 30 days after being notified about the presence of DNA.
  3. A “rapid turnaround DNA program” is defined.

Note:  A laboratory is not required to test all items of forensic evidence obtained in a sexual assault forensic evidence examination. A lab is considered to be in compliance when representative samples of evidence are processed by the lab in an effort to detect the foreign DNA of the perpetrator.

Upon request of a sexual assault victim, the law enforcement agency investigating a violation of specified sexual assault crimes may inform the victim of the status of the DNA testing of the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence from the victim’s case. The law enforcement agency, may, at its discretion, require that the victim’s request be in writing.

The statute further defines three informational rights of sexual assault victims: (1) the right to be informed whether or not a DNA profile of the assailant was obtained; (2) the right to be informed whether or not the DNA profile was entered into CODIS; and (3) the right to be informed if there was a match in CODIS, provided the disclosure would not impede or compromise an ongoing investigation.