She Was Raped at 13. Her Case Sat Untouched for 21 Years. Now She’s Changed the Law

Lavinia Masters is the happiest rape victim you’ll ever meet. She says so herself.Right now Masters has something to celebrate. Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Lavinia Masters Act into law. The law bearing her name requires that law enforcement agencies test evidence collected after sexual assaults in a timely manner and extends the statute of limitations for cases with untested evidence.The new law effectively eliminates the rape kit backlong that haunted Lavinia Masters for over two decades.‘A systematic rape’On July 31, 1985, Lavinia Masters was raped at knife-point by an intruder in her family’s West Dallas home when she was 13 years old. “I had no idea who it was, where he came from, or why he chose me.”The police came to her home and questioned her and her family at the scene. All she wanted was a shower. She was covered in blood. “I'm dirty, I'm filthy, I'm a mess,” she says. “I had [what] I call a smile cut in my neck, because the knife print was still in my neck.”The police took her to Parkland Memorial Hospital for what is now called a SANE exam, a sexual assault nurse examiner exam. This exam collects the evidence that composes a rape kit.The hospital staff put her on a gurney in the middle of the hallway while they waited for a doctor to arrive. The police questioned her more in that crowded hallway. She felt as if they were trying to find a hole in her story. Her mom sobbed in the background.   Continue reading...

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