Pennsylvania Files Lawsuit Over Company’s ‘Misleading’ At-Home Rape Kits

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A Pittsburgh-based company that provides at-home rape kits for sexual abuse survivors is at the center of a new lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. The lawsuit accuses the company of providing a false alternative to care and justice for survivors of sexual abuse.

Attorney General Michelle Henry announced the lawsuit in a news release, explaining that her office filed the lawsuit after the company, Leda Health Corporation, failed to comply with the demands of a cease-and-desist letter sent to Leda Health and its CEO Madison Campbell on May 24.

The letter directed the company to “immediately cease and desist all advertising, marketing, and sales of products and services relating to its Early Evidence Kits.”

Leda Health promotes itself as a company built by survivors for survivors. One of their products, the Early Evidence Kit, is described as an at-home rape kit that victims can use after an assault. The kits allow victims to collect what the company describes as “evidence,” providing victims with an alternative way to collect critical evidence instead of the current method of going to a medical facility or hospital.

AG Henry argues that the at-home rape kits cause victims more harm than help. Disclaimers on the rape kits mislead victims into thinking the samples they collect at home can take the place of samples collected in a medical setting and still be used to pursue justice against their perpetrators, the lawsuit explains.

By promoting this false narrative, the lawsuit argues that the company is violating the state’s consumer protection law through its misleading advertisements. The complaint argues that the service provided through the rape kit does rise to the standard of the Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act.

“These kits essentially offer false promises to consumers by misleading them to think evidence collected privately at home can result in a criminal conviction — that is yet to have happened anywhere with the use of these kits,” Attorney General Henry explained. She adds, “I spent much of my career advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual assault and have seen the trauma experienced by the brave survivors. They deserve advocates offering the whole truth in available options, including avenues for pursuing justice against their assailant.”

The Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect (PCAR) also joined in on AG Henry’s news release, voicing its concerns against Leda Health’s services. Gabriella Romeo, PCAR Public Policy Director, explained, “The use of an ‘at-home kit’ provides a sexual assault survivor with false hope and misleads them away from a pathway to safety and justice.” Romeo adds “It’s imperative sexual assault survivors seek trained medical care at a hospital and services from their local rape crisis center.”

The Pennsylvania Office of Victims Services outlines state laws that protect the rights of sexual assault victims. Among those rights are anonymous and no-cost access to a forensic exam, evidence collection, resources, and support following an assault. These are resources the lawsuit highlights victims are stripped of when they turn to the at-home rape kits.

The lawsuit is asking the courts to declare Leda Health’s practices a violation of the state's consumer laws. It is seeking civil penalties for every violation of the law, and other damages.

While the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section has taken the lead against Leda Health’s services, a number of other states have issued their own cease-and-desist letters to the company.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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