Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia

State of Virginia with VA SAKI (Sexual Assault Kit Initiative) with Dark Green Ribbon

Virginia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (VA SAKI)


The recommendations offered here are grounded in nationally recognized, research-backed best practices. Their purpose is to serve as a guiding framework for the development of protocols for case review and victim notification. Protocols should be considered dynamic, evolving documents, subject to updates as cases are reviewed and victims are notified of testing results and options.


  •  Convene a multidisciplinary team (MDT), including sex crimes, cold case, and crime scene investigators, system and community-based advocates, forensic nurses, lab personnel, prosecutors, and other relevant professionals. These experts should collaborate in both the development and active engagement of case review and victim notification protocols.
  •  Ensure that all MDT members possess or receive training in the neurobiology of trauma, with a special emphasis on its relevance to sex crimes. The SAKI TTA website is specifically designed for MDT members to seek comprehensive training on trauma-informed practices, victim notification, and related topics.
  •  Designate a central point of contact responsible for receiving analysis and CODIS hit reports, as well as for compiling data necessary for grant reporting.
  •  Thoroughly examine every case included in the inventories to assess the potential for a new investigation, regardless of the PERK testing outcome. Prior barriers to effective investigation and prosecution may have since been removed.
  •  Prioritize cases that hit to other cases or to an offender. This could help in identifying serial offenders and linking unknown offenders to all types of crimes.
  •   Establish a clear system for prioritizing cases within the existing caseload and designating responsible staff. Evaluate each case to decide whether to assign the same investigator, prosecutor, or advocate, if feasible and suitable, or opt for new staff assignments based on the case circumstances.
  •  Explore other items of evidence that may yield results in cases where the PERK does not generate a searchable DNA profile.
  •  Appoint a dedicated point of contact to handle potential media inquiries about the progress of PERK testing and any follow-up actions.


Victim notification is the most important aspect of this project to consider. To design a trauma-informed, victim-centered plan to minimize retraumatization, it’s essential to take the following factors into careful consideration:

  •  Engage a victim advocate, whether system-based, community-based, or both, to provide support.
  •  Ensure individuals responsible for notification receive training on the neurobiology of trauma and victim-centered practices to handle the sensitive nature of the process effectively.
  •  Consider reasons the victim may have disengaged from the initial investigation, which could include a variety of factors such as fear, mistrust, or personal circumstances.
  •  Take into account various influences, including cultural, ethnic, family, community dynamics, and other factors that may create barriers to notification, and tailor your approach accordingly.
  •  Understand the victim’s prior and current relationship with the offender, as this can impact safety.
  •  Work closely with advocate to plan for victim safety and privacy during the notification process.
  •  Request the advocate to prepare resource materials to provide to victim, connecting them to support.
  •  Evaluate the pros and cons of different methods of notification and tailor to each case.
  •  Anticipate that victims’ reactions may vary, may not be what you expect, and may be strong emotional responses.
  •  Allow plenty of time to answer questions and engage in open discussions about available options.
  •  Plan for the first contact to include an apology (see next bullet), explanation of the PERK testing, answering questions, and active listening to the victim’s concerns.
  •  Offer a sincere apology, first for the trauma they endured and second for any delays in contacting them, expressing empathy and understanding.
  •  Provide choices that give the victim agency in the process (e.g., "I have information about your case, may I share it with you?"; "Is this a good time for you to talk?"; "Would you prefer to meet in person?"; etc).
  •  Recognize that the information the victim shares may differ from the initial investigation, possibly due to memory impacted by trauma and variations in how the initial investigation recorded the victim’s account.
  •  Offer options for further contact, advocacy, the location and time for in-person meetings, and the victim’s preferences for the progression of the investigation and potential prosecution.
  •  Continuously evaluate the notification process and update the protocol as needed to ensure it remains sensitive and effective in addressing victims’ needs.


  •  With any questions about the SAKI project
  •  For assistance with victim notification from our Victim Advocate
  •  For options on notifying victims of testing results and case options
  •  For examples of case review and notification protocols
  •  For help with developing case review and notification protocols

Virginia Office of the Attorney General

202 North 9th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Attorney General Seal

This project was supported by Grant No. 2020-AK-BX-0033 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.