NATIONAL NEWS

DA: Police used DNA collected from sex-assault victim to arrest her for property crime

Feb 15, 2022, 3:32 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:40 pm
FILE -- This Feb. 8, 2017, photo, Utah State Crime Lab Director Jay Henry holds a sexual assault ev...
FILE -- This Feb. 8, 2017, photo, Utah State Crime Lab Director Jay Henry holds a sexual assault evidence collection kit following a committee meeting at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco’s police chief said Monday that he is investigating claims by the city’s district attorney that DNA collected from rape victims is being used to help identify them as possible suspects in crimes.

The police crime lab “attempts to identify crime suspects” by searching a law enforcement database that includes DNA collected from sexual assault victims, District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Monday.

He didn’t identify the database, but said one woman was recently arrested for a felony property crime based on her DNA collected years ago during a domestic violence-involved rape examination.

That could violate the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures as well as California’s Victims’ Bill of Rights and could dissuade sexual assault victims from reporting crimes, Boudin said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Rapes and sexual assault are violent, dehumanizing, and traumatic. I am disturbed that victims who have the courage to undergo an invasive examination to help identify their perpetrators are being treated like criminals rather than supported as crime victims,” Boudin said in a statement. “We should encourage survivors to come forward — not collect evidence to use against them in the future.”

Boudin didn’t provide many details about the case and said his office is still investigating how many victims of sexual assault may have been arrested based on their DNA.

However, the database could potentially include thousands of DNA profiles from sexual assault victims, he said.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said he has ordered an investigation.

“We must never create disincentives for crime victims to cooperate with police, and if it’s true that DNA collected from a rape or sexual assault victim has been used by SFPD to identify and apprehend that person as a suspect in another crime, I’m committed to ending the practice,” he said.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she learned about the alleged practice last weekend and has asked the city attorney’s office to draft legislation barring the use of rape kit evidence except to investigate the rape, the Chronicle reported.

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DA: Police used DNA collected from sex-assault victim to arrest her for property crime