[Fox News] Dem AGs slapped with lawsuit over ‘threats’ to shut down sexual assault advocacy group for at-home rape kits

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FIRST ON FOX: Two Democratic state attorneys general are being sued on claims that they are violating the First Amendment with “threats” to shut down an organization that seeks to expand aid for survivors of sexual assault with a government-alternative “self-administered DNA collection” kit.

Leda Health Corporation says it is working to “end the cycle of sexual violence” – developing an Early Evidence Kit (EEK) that allows victims to “receive time-sensitive DNA after sexual assault” through a self-collection of evidence, rather than getting a traditional rape kit at the hospital. CEO Madison Campbell filed a lawsuit against New York AG Letitia James and Pennsylvania AG Michelle Henry after the two penned letters in opposition to the at-home alternative kit.

Alex Little, the attorney representing Campbell, emphasized that the lawsuit “focused on threats that those attorneys general made to shut down the company and penalize Miss Campbell for statements they had made about sexual assault and sexual assault victims” while speaking with Fox News Digital during an exclusive interview.

“Ultimately, this lawsuit is about a disagreement about what we should tell survivors of sexual assault. The attorneys general here, as we lay out in the complaint, want those survivors to only receive a very narrow message,” Little told Fox News Digital. “The reality is, we think that victims deserve a broader spectrum of opinions and information. And Leda is part of the process for giving them that information.”

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The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims that defendants James and Henry “threatened, coerced, and intimidated Leda Health to stop its business in Pennsylvania and New York.” 

“The lawsuit includes the letters and the sort of threats from both attorneys general, one from Pennsylvania, asking Leda to shut down within seven days or face a lawsuit,” Little said in an interview. “Those threats were tied directly to Leda continuing to send this message to victims that there are alternatives to traditional rape kits.”

Little said the First Amendment rights of Leda Health and its CEO are being infringed upon in the attempt by the Democratic attorneys general to interfere in the company’s messaging.

The suit also stated that the defendants believe “Leda Health and Ms. Campbell cannot tell women who experience sexual assault about alternatives to government-endorsed services (such as traditional forensic exams conducted in hospitals or at law enforcement facilities) because it might discourage victims from seeking these services. Doing so is a ‘deceptive practice,’ the pair claim, even when all the information that Leda Health provides is true.”

The lawsuit states that in Henry’s letter, she called the EEK, which presents an alternative to government services, a “deceptive practice.”

Little said that “both attorneys general think that leaders shouldn’t be telling people they can do this, and that somehow doing so is deceiving them about things like admissibility, what might happen in court.”

“I think what’s so important about this lawsuit is reminding public officials, like attorneys general that if you’re going to use this extreme power you have, you have to do so in a way that respects individual and corporations’ First Amendment rights,” Little said. “The reality is, in this country, victims of sexual assault face a very difficult time and are not being well served. Leda is founded to help that, to change that. And if folks are going to stand in the way, we certainly need to find all legal avenues to make sure that those obstacles are removed.”

When asked about the lawsuit, Letitia James’ office sent Fox News Digital a copy of the 2019 cease-and-desist letter to Leda Health regarding their kits, where the attorney general’s office said the advertisements for the EEK kits were “reckless.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the office of Henry for comment.

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