Woman whose rape DNA led to her arrest sues San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A rape victim whose DNA from her sexual assault case was used by San Francisco police to arrest her for an unrelated property crime filed a lawsuit against the city Monday.

During a search of a San Francisco Police Department crime lab database, the woman’s DNA was linked to a robbery in late 2021. Her DNA had been collected and stored in the system as part of a murder case. domestic violence and sexual assault in 2016, then the District said attorney Chesa Boudin in February in a shocking revelation that raised privacy concerns.

“This is government overreach at the highest level, using the most unique and personal thing we have, our genetic code, without our knowledge to try to connect us to crime,” the woman’s attorney, Adante Pointer, said in a statement. .

the revelation sparked a national outcry of advocates, law enforcement, legal experts, and legislators. Advocates said the practice could affect victims’ willingness to come forward to police authorities.

Federal law already prohibits the inclusion of victims’ DNA in the National Combined DNA Index System. There is no corresponding law in California that prohibits local law enforcement databases from keeping victim profiles and searching them years later for entirely different purposes.

California lawmakers last month approved a bill that would ban the use of DNA profiles collected by police from sexual assault survivors and other victims for any purpose other than to help identify the perpetrator. Local law enforcement agencies would also be prohibited from retaining and then seeking victims’ DNA to incriminate them in unrelated crimes under the legislation, which is pending before Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Boudin said the report was found among hundreds of pages of evidence against a woman who had recently been charged with a felony property crime. After learning the source of the DNA evidence, Boudin dropped felony property charges against the woman.

The police department’s crime lab stopped the practice shortly after receiving a complaint from the district attorney’s office and formally changed its operating procedure to prevent the misuse of DNA collected from sexual assault victims, Police Chief Bill Scott said. .

Scott told a police commission meeting in March that he had uncovered 17 crime victim profiles, 11 of them from rape kits, who were matched as potential suspects using a crime victim database during unrelated investigations. Scott said he believes the only person arrested was the woman who filed the lawsuit Monday.

The woman filed the lawsuit under the alias Jane Doe to protect her privacy, Pointer said The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they choose to be named.

California allows local law enforcement crime labs to operate their own forensic databases that are separate from federal and state databases. The law also allows municipal laboratories to perform forensic analysis, including DNA profiling, and use those databases, without regulation by the state or others.

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