Police know there's a serial rapist in a particular area. He's left no DNA and victims never saw his face. Police learn that a unknown female victim from that area was examined by a sexual assault forensic examiner and a rape kit was secured. However the victim chose the option of not immediately reporting the rape so the kit is held until the victim signs the release (if she does) what can police do to find the victim considering HIPAA and state laws protecting her identity?

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    The answer may be state specific, but what laws protect the victim's identity in the first place? I wouldn't think a forensic examiner is a health care provider, so HIPAA shouldn't come into play.
    – bdb484
    Nov 6, 2022 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


It is important to note that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of an individual's medical information. It does not prevent the police from obtaining evidence in a criminal investigation, but it does place certain restrictions on how that information can be used and disclosed.

In the scenario you have described, it is possible that the police could request a court order or subpoena to obtain the rape kit and any other relevant medical information related to the victim's examination. This would typically require the police to show that they have probable cause to believe that the evidence is relevant to the investigation and that they have exhausted all other reasonable means of obtaining it.

It is also possible that state laws or local policies may place additional restrictions on the police's ability to obtain this information.

  • Do I have to provide references? There was no answer so I provided one. If someone wants to provide a cite answer, they still can, and the one better serving OP will be accepted. I don't know why I got this now for the second time. I saw many non-cited answers on this SE. Dec 26, 2022 at 1:34
  • Citations are not mandatory.
    – Pat W.
    Dec 27, 2022 at 19:47

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