Discovering the Sarah Palin Rape-Kit "Scandal'

A Times editor arrives two weeks later to a left-wing rumor: "When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams...."

On Friday, editorial board member Dorothy Samuels served up a signed editorial that treated as fact a sixteen-day old story that may be liberal legend: "Wasilla Watch; Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits."

Even in tough budget times, there are lines that cannot be crossed. So I was startled by this tidbit reported recently by The Associated Press: When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams....The rape-kit controversy is a troubling matter. The insult to rape victims is obvious. So is the sexism inherent in singling them out to foot the bill for investigating their own case. And the main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults....when news of Wasilla's practice of billing rape victims got around, Alaska's State Legislature approved a bill in 2000 to stop it.....Eric Croft, a former Democratic state lawmaker who sponsored the corrective legislation, believes that Wasilla's mayor knew what was going on. (She does seem to have paid heed to every other detail of town life, including what books were on the library's shelves.)

Samuels, who once served as executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, injected hostile leftist mind-reading of Palin into the pages of the Times.

In the absence of answers, speculation is bubbling in the blogosphere that Wasilla's policy of billing rape victims may have something to do with Ms. Palin's extreme opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape. Sexual-assault victims are typically offered an emergency contraception pill, which some people in the anti-choice camp wrongly equate with abortion.

My hunch is that it was the result of outmoded attitudes and boneheaded budget cutting. Still, Ms. Palin has been governor for under two years, and she's running for vice president largely on her experience as mayor of tiny Wasilla - a far superior credential, she's told us, to being a community organizer. On the rape kits, as on other issues, she owes voters a direct answer.

Jim Geraghty at National Review raised some points ignored by Samuels that appear to debunk the controvesry, noting, for one, that the town of Wasilla was never mentioned in the Alaskan debate. And Geraghty could uncover no evidence any rape victim was actually charged for a rape kit in Wasilla:

The Democratic sponsor of the legislation, Eric Croft, told USA Today recently that "the law was aimed in part at Wasilla, where now-Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor." Yet in six committee meetings, Wasilla was never mentioned, even when the discussion turned to the specific topic of where victims were being charged. ....In light of Wasilla's low number of rapes according to available FBI statistics (one to two per year, compared to Juneau's 30-39), and the fact that the Wasilla Finance Department cannot find any record of charging a victim for a rape kit, it is entirely possible that no victim was ever charged.