Still, hospital and police officials credit an offer of Jane Doe testing with encouraging a reluctant victim in Cecil County to undergo an exam. During that process, she decided to report the crime, and her attacker was successfully prosecuted.
"Just to let people know this option is out there is good, to say, 'It's OK, you don't have to prosecute if you don't want to,"' said Kathleen, a rape victim in Pennsylvania who spoke on condition her full name not be used.
Kathleen underwent an exam after being raped in Virginia in 2004, but her rapist was never found or charged. Kathleen said she wasn't offered anonymous reporting, but she has met rape victims in group therapy who regret not going for an exam.
"They're embarrassed. They don't even go get tested for STDs because they're so embarrassed," Kathleen said.
At Union Hospital in Elkton, forensic nurse Chris Lenz said Jane Doe testing is not offered unless a medical professional fears the victim will leave without the option.
"Of course we encourage reporting. That's what we would like. But when they're adamant they don't want to report - if we think, `She's going to walk out if she has to go through with this,' - that's when we offer it," Lenz said.
On the Net: International Association of Forensic Nurses: http://www.iafn.org Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: http://www.rainn.org
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)