Eau Claire man first person charged in Sexual Assault Kit Initia - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire man first person charged in Sexual Assault Kit Initiative


Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the Department of Justice's first arrest in the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

The first hit was linked to Aaron J. Heiden of Eau Claire. The criminal complaint against him links him to the 2008 assault of a woman in Winnebago County. The 29-year-old will be charged with one count of Second Degree Sexual Assault and one count of Third Degree Sexual Assault.

News 18 talked with a Sexual Assault Nurse Examniner - or SANE Nurse - at HSHS Sacred Heart about the impact this could have on survivors. SANE Nurse, Dianne Whitehouse, hopes seeing people held accountable will encourage victims to be more willing to get sexual assault kit exams. Whitehouse said getting an examination is the victim's personal choice, but she recommends testing for a reason.

"People don't believe this could happen that this could happen, to their mother, to their brother, to their sister, to their kids, but it does," said Whitehouse. "It happens a lot more than we think. And now with DNA testing, and the kits being processed, that we can prosecute these people that are doing these horrible things."

Fox Crossing (WQOW) - An Eau Claire man was charged with two felony counts of sexual assault as result of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI).

The initiative is a statewide effort to address the decades-old accumulation of previously unsubmitted sexual assault, or rape kits that were held by local police and hospitals. Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed its first prosecution in that process. 

Aaron Heiden, 29, of Eau Claire is charged with one count of second degree sexual assault and one count of third degree sexual assault stemming from a 2008 sexual assault of a woman, according to the DOJ. He was arrested by the Department of Justice and the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office. Heiden will be transferred to the Winnebago County Jail at a later time.

DNA evidence from the victim’s sexual assault kit, which had never been tested, matched Heiden. This case was investigated by the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation, Fox Crossing Police, the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. 

In addition to testing these sexual assault kits and investigating the cases that may arise, DOJ has laid out the following plan:

  • Create a team dedicated to WiSAKI to assist local jurisdictions with victim notification protocols, as well as with the investigation and prosecution of cases that may arise from the testing of unsubmitted sexual assault kits. The team is made up of one victim services specialist, two special agents, one assistant attorney general, and one research analyst.
  • Complete an inventory of all unsubmitted sexual assault kits at all programs and hospitals conducting sexual assault forensic exams and at the state’s 557 law enforcement agencies.
  • ·Test unsubmitted sexual assault kits that have been designated for testing.
  • Expand the sexual assault response training program to equip more law enforcement officers, prosecutors, sexual assault nurse examiners, and victim advocates with the specialized knowledge and resources needed to properly respond to sexual assault cases.
  • Implement a sexual assault kit tracking system that will track a kit from the point of manufacture, to hospitals, to law enforcement, and through submission to the state crime lab. This system is intended to offer an option for survivors to access information about the location of their kit and will provide a mechanism for the ongoing auditing of sexual assault kit submissions.

Any survivor who had a sexual assault kit collected and does not know if their kit was tested for the presence of DNA evidence can call 1-800-446-6564 or go to ByYourSideWI.org for information and assistance. Survivors will also be referred to local advocacy and support services.

For more information about Attorney General Schimel’s efforts to address the accumulation of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits, go to https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov/.


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