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#72: Palin required rape victims to pay for their own rape kits.

No, she didn’t try to charge rape victims personally for rape kits.

This is one of those complicated ones with a tiny hint of truth behind it.

  • First, the Chief of Police in Wasilla (not Palin) did apparently have a policy of asking a victim’s health insurance to pay for the rape kit as part of the ER visit. This, it turns out, is policy in a number of states, including Missouri and North Carolina.
  • Second, the way this became an issue was after the then-governor of Alaska signed a bill forbidding it; this law was signed before Palin was Governor and no one tried to reverse it while she was Governor.
  • Third, what the CoP in Wasilla wanted to do was charge the perpetrator as part of restitution.

Bob Owens (Confederate Yankee) has done more investigation on this and learned some new things:

  • There is no record anywhere that anyone was ever actually charged for a rape kit.
  • However, the hospital might have billed a patient, just as they would bill the patient for an MRI if the attack included a head injury.
  • If anyone were charged, the Alaska Victims Compensation Board would have reimbursed them. CY quotes an email that says:
    Rape kits and other medical expenses of this type would be paid by the VCCB, 100% guaranteed. The City of Wasilla could have technically ‘charged’ the victim but even if they did, the VCCB would have paid the bill in full. I still know the a few of the Board members and the supervisor and I can tell you that they are very liberal with the way that they pay the victims bills.

Update: Tu quoque is never a good argument, but it turns out (via the comments at CY) that there are two interesting points:

First, it turns out that Illinois currently at least attempts to bill the victim’s insurance for the rape kits too:

(410 ILCS 70/7)
Sec. 7. Charges and reimbursement.
(a) When any ambulance provider furnishes transportation, hospital provides hospital emergency services and forensic services, hospital or health care professional or laboratory provides follow‑up healthcare, or pharmacy dispenses prescribed medications to any sexual assault survivor, as defined by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who is neither eligible to receive such services under the Illinois Public Aid Code NOR COVERED AS TO SUCH SERVICES BY A POLICY OF INSURANCE the ambulance provider, hospital, health care professional, or laboratory shall furnish such services to that person without charge and shall be entitled to be reimbursed for its billed charges in providing such services by the Illinois Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Program under the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. [Emphasis mine.]

It appears that Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill that estabpished this.

Second, it turns out that North Carolina hospitals billed patients directly until last month (or perhaps later, as it isn’t clear when this law takes effect):

The N.C. General Assembly approved more than $1 million this summer to revamp a program designed to help cover the cost of rape kit exams for uninsured victims. The exams are used to collect bodily evidence of an attacker and are standard in the prosecution of sex crimes.

Now, hospitals will settle directly with the state, sparing victims of sexual assault the aggravation and trauma of receiving a bill.

It turns out that Jim Hunt and now Mike Easley have been the governors of North Carolina since 1993.

It is left as an exercise for the interested reader to determine the political affiliation of these people.

Update (2300 MDT): Two more things have shown up.

First, Bob Owen has received documentation including copies of contemporaneous documents showing that the City of Wasilla did indeed pay for the rape kits of two instances before the law was in effect. As he correctly points out, these were after the law was passed, so it’s not in itself conclusive, but at least suggestive.

Second, Jim Geraghty at NRO has investigated further, and found:

1.Wasilla was not mentioned in any of the hearings. [This is contrary to what Tony Knowles, who Palin beat for the Governorship, has said recently.—CRM]

2. The deputy commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Public Safety told the State Affairs Committee that he has never found a police agency that has billed a victim. ….

To clarify: In preparation to attend a hearing and support the bill, one of the state’s top law-enforcement officials found no case of a rape victim ever being charged. And roughly a month after 30 Democratic lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers, not to mention reporters from every major news agency in the country, landed in Alaska, we still have no instances to consider.

3. Three times, witnesses told the committees that hospitals were responsible for passing the bill on to victims, not police agencies. If the bill went straight from the hospital to the victim, without ever being sent to the police department, this would explain why no confirming paperwork could be found in the Wasilla Finance Department. This information also fortifies Palin’s claim that she was never aware of the policy, as it is more plausible that a mayor would not be aware of a private hospitals’ billing policy than of the police department’s billing policy.


  1. It never happened: Wasilla never charged anyone for a rape kit.
  2. If Wasilla had billed someone, it would have been reimbursed through a different state agency.
  3. The only evidence offered for this is from Palin’s political enemies, offered only after she was nominated for the Vice presidency; it is unsupported, and in fact contradicted, by contemporaneous accounts.

{ 8 } Comments

  1. Charlie | 2008-Sep-29 at 11:26 (@518) | Permalink

    I’m saying that the connection to Palin is a lot stronger in the rumors than in any evidence I’ve seen presented.

  2. scrumptious | 2008-Sep-29 at 16:36 (@733) | Permalink

    So let me get this straight.

    You agree that until the Croft bill was passed, it was the policy of the City of Wasilla/the Wasilla police department not to pick up the bill for the rape exams, but to allow hospitals to bill victims through their insurance carriers, correct?

  3. Charlie | 2008-Sep-29 at 18:19 (@804) | Permalink

    Nice try, but no. Bring Lion and Tin Man next time.

  4. voxitar | 2008-Sep-30 at 12:05 (@545) | Permalink

    “You agree that until the Croft bill was passed, it was the policy of the City of Wasilla/the Wasilla police department not to pick up the bill for the rape exams, but to allow hospitals to bill victims through their insurance carriers, correct?”

    Scrumptious, the point is that based on committee testimony, as noted by Charlie and transcribed here and elsewhere, it appears there never was an actual “policy” by the Wasilla PD with respect to rape kits. When a rape victim was taken to Valley Hospital by the Wasilla PD, the HOSPITAL then decided to charge the victim WITHOUT involving the Police, the town of Wasilla, or Mayor Palin. I’m not sure how you can make the stretch that a private Hospital’s policies are also the local mayor’s policies….or the local Police Department’s policies.

    To NOT believe this is the way things transpired is to disbelieve actual facts in evidence, i.e. the transcribed testimony, whereby victim advocates stated the HOSPITALS were charging the victims…they could cite NO instances of the City of Wasilla PD (or any other PD) billing victims for rape kits, which, I might add, directly contradicts what are clearly now known to be partisan, untrue (read: LIE) comments by Croft AFTER Palin was nominated for VEEP.

    So, to answer your question, it does appear it was the policy of the HOSPITAL to charge rape victims for rape kits. It doesn’t appear that there was a policy in the Wasilla PD with respect to rape victims paying for their own rape kits unless new documents emerge to suggest otherwise.

  5. scrumptious | 2008-Sep-30 at 16:44 (@739) | Permalink

    Charlie –

    Wait a minute.

    In #50 I asked if you were claiming that the hospital did not bill the insurance companies of victims in Wasilla prior to the bill’s passage.

    In #51 you replied: “I’m saying that the connection to Palin is a lot stronger in the rumors than in any evidence I’ve seen presented.”

    Which implied to me at least that no, you were not claiming that the hospital did not bill the insurance companies of victims in Wasilla prior to the bill’s passage. Which means of course that the city or police department did NOT pick up the bill.

    Now you seem to deny that.

    I’ll try not to insult you if you will refrain from insulting me.

  6. scrumptious | 2008-Sep-30 at 16:46 (@740) | Permalink

    Sorry Voxitar, either a police agency picks up the hospital bill or it doesn’t. We know that Irl Stamberg’s police department did pick up the bill. We know that Fallon’s police department, unlike almost every police department in the state, didn’t.

    Parse it however you want, but them’s the facts.

  7. scrumptious | 2008-Sep-30 at 16:50 (@743) | Permalink

    You know what, I think I’m done here.

    I originally sensed an attitude of genuine interest in getting to the facts of the matter, at least on your part, Charlie.

    I think I may have been wrong.

    You take care.

  8. Charlie | 2008-Sep-30 at 21:20 (@930) | Permalink

    Sheli, I’m sorry you took it that way. But logically, you presented a straw man: if I say “I don’t know of evidence for X” without saying that X is absolutely not true, and you say “so you admit X”, that’s a straw man. Who, of course, is the one missing from the list including Lion and Tin Man.

    I could, I suppose, said “that is a fallacious argument Sheli; it’s called a straw man. Since I used to teach logic, I don’t think you should use a straw man argument.”

    But yeah, I would imagine that if that degree of teasing is going to make you too angry to continue, then I suspect you won’t be happy here long term.

{ 5 } Trackbacks

  1. […] all this piece does is help perpetuate the myth. Thankfully, in addition to the blog posts I linked to in my first post about this, Jim Geraghty at the National Review Online has […]

  2. […] Unfortunately, all this piece does is help perpetuate the myth. Thankfully, in addition to the blog posts I linked to in my first post about this, Jim Geraghty at the National Review Online has done […]

  3. […] In reality, and had any journalist in the MSM outlets bothered to do their job instead of working for the Obama campaign 24/7, there was a state law forbidding charging victims of rape for their rape kits since 2000. As for where it all came from, the chief of Police( chief of police, not Palin) in Wasilla wanted to have the Insurance companies(Insurance companies, not the victims) to pay for them, with the intention of billing it ultimately to the rapists eventually. However, there isn’t a single piece of record that shows that a single victim’s insurance was ever billed for it. If this practice still seems creepy or exclusive to macho, rough-and-tumble Alaska, well, it happens to be the practice in other states, too, like North Carolina (until recently) and … Illinois. […]

  4. more rape kits « Pigs with Lipstick | 2008-Oct-16 at 22:48 (@991) | Permalink

    […] union- my first letter to the editor! :o) Anyway, he comes back today FINALLY with this article: Palin Myths . Which pissed me off (surprise, surprised). So here’s my […]

  5. […] it turns out that skepticism wins the day. Thanks to very thorough debunkings by bloggers Charlie Martin of Explorations and Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee, we can put this bit of nastiness to […]

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