POLITICS
10/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Palin's Town Charged Rape Victims For Exams, Former Alaska Gov Says

UPDATE: The Jed Report finds the connection to John McCain:

In 1994, John McCain voted against legislation -- pushed through Congress by Joe Biden -- that helped put an end to the practice of charging rape victims for sexual assault exams.

Twisted as it may sound, charging victims for a forensic exam was a real problem. For example, as AMERICAblog has documented (and the media is now reporting), when Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the town charged rape victims for the exams.

Biden's legislation required that state, local, and Indian governments provide the rape exams to victims free of charge as a condition of receiving federal funds under the Violence Against Women Act. In 2000, Alaska finally passed state legislation in order to qualify for federal funding.

McCain not only opposed Biden's legislation, but also has voted against funding it as recently as October 2007.

**END OF UPDATE**

Bloggers have been writing for a few days about reports that Sarah Palin's town charged rape victims for forensic exams when she was mayor. Now former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles has come out in support of the story. McClatchy reports:

Two state leaders lashed out at the public record of Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday as witnesses in a new "Alaska Mythbusters" forum coordinated by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Speaking to a teleconference audience of reporters around the nation, former Gov. Tony Knowles and current Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein -- both Democrats -- accused Palin of misleading the public in her new role as the vice presidential running mate of Arizona Sen. John McCain.

While some of their complaints have already been aired, Knowles broke new ground while answering a reporter's question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.

True, Knowles said.

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said.

USA Today has more:

According to the sponsor, Democrat Eric Croft, the law was aimed in part at Wasilla, where now-Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor. When it was signed, Wasilla's police chief expressed displeasure.

...

"In retrospect, I would have asked the female working-mother mayor of that town why her police chief was against this," said Croft, the former Anchorage state representative.

Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said in an e-mail that the governor "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."

"Gov. Palin's position could not be more clear," she said. "To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice."

Comella would not answer other questions, including when Palin learned of Wasilla's policy or whether she tried to change it. The campaign cited the governor's record on domestic violence, including increasing funding for shelters.

And US News tells readers that, while Wasilla was the only town in Alaska with this foul policy, it isn't the only place in the U.S..