AG Henry Sends Cease-And-Desist Letter, Files Suit Against Leda Health Regarding Misleading Marketing of ‘Early Evidence Kits’ for Sexual Assault Victims

June 18, 2024 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that the Office of Attorney General has sent a cease-and-desist letter and filed a lawsuit against Pittsburgh-based Leda Health Corporation regarding the company’s so-called “Early Evidence Kits” to be used by victims following a sexual assault. The kits are marketed as enabling victims to collect “evidence” at home, rather than going to a hospital or medical facility.

The lawsuit alleges that the kits and messaging attached to marketing efforts are problematic and in violation of Pennsylvania’s consumer protection law. They also fall short of meeting evidence collection standards set by the legislature and Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, the latter being recently amended after unanimous votes in the House and Senate.

Disclaimers attached to the kits inadequately inform and mislead consumers into thinking collecting a sample on their own could supplant steps taken at a medical/forensics facility that is qualified in proper evidence collection and connected to a national database for criminal offenders (CODIS).

The Office of Attorney General’s letter, which was sent to Leda Health and its CEO Madison Campbell on May 24, directs Leda to “immediately cease and desist all advertising, marketing, and sales of products and services relating to its Early Evidence Kits.”

Leda Health’s counsel responded to the cease and desist letter on June 11, but has taken no steps to comply with the actions required by the Office of Attorney General and gave no indication that the company would ever comply. The Office of Attorney General filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Leda to halt the deceptive marketing practices and seek applicable penalties and costs.

“These kits essentially offer false promises to consumers by misleading them to think evidence collected privately at home can result in a criminal conviction — that is yet to have happened anywhere with the use of these kits,” Attorney General Henry said. “I spent much of my career advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual assault and have seen the trauma experienced by the brave survivors. They deserve advocates offering the whole truth in available options, including avenues for pursuing justice against their assailant.”

The Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect (PCAR) also expressed concerns about the kits.

“PCAR supports the swift action by the Attorney General to warn the public of the risks of “at-home rape kits” and ban them in Pennsylvania. PCAR continues to work tirelessly to support survivors of sexual assault and restore hope during an extremely vulnerable and traumatic time,” said Gabriella Romeo, PCAR Public Policy Director. “The use of an “at-home kit” provides a sexual assault survivor with false hope and misleads them away from a pathway to safety and justice. It’s imperative sexual assault survivors seek trained medical care at a hospital and services from their local rape crisis center. These individuals are trained to support survivors while utilizing trauma-informed proven methods of healing.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania protects the rights of survivors of sexual assault. Those rights include the right to a forensic exam, evidence collection, and the right to resources and support — anonymously and at no cost.

The civil complaint and cease-and-desist letter outline breaches of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Leda Health promotes its kits as offering a viable alternative to treatment, services, and evidence collection in the hospital setting, which are provided free of charge under Pennsylvania law. The company fails to disclose that its kits have never produced evidence admitted in court and fail to meet the comprehensive scope of services carried out in a hospital setting. Survivors of sexual assault persuaded to use the company’s kits risk losing access to both vital healthcare and justice.

Multiple other states have taken cease-and-desist actions against Leda Health Corporation. The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section led the independent review of Leda’s Early Evidence Kits.

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