A California woman is suing the City of San Francisco after her rape kit DNA was stored in the system and later used to identify her as a suspect in a burglary.
In February of this year, San Francisco police allegedly used DNA stored from a rape victim while investigating a burglary, in which they arrested and charged her but later charges were dropped, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe, the victim of a sexual assault, provided her DNA to the police department as part of the investigation into her assault in 2016. She claims she was assured her DNA would not be used for anything other than her investigation, reports the lawsuit.
Despite this claim, her DNA was kept in a database which allegedly ran her DNA routinely against DNA collected from crime scenes to see if she was a possible match.
“Her DNA was likely tested in thousands of criminal investigations, though the police had absolutely no reason to believe that she was involved in any of the incidents,” said the lawsuit.
When the victim was first arrested back in February, at-the-time District Attorney Chesa Boudin condemned the practice, saying it was legally and ethically wrong to use rape victims’ DNA against them in the future, according to a press release.
“My office is demanding that this practice end immediately, and is encouraging local and state legislators to introduce legislation to end this practice in California,” said DA Boudin in a release.
The victim’s attorneys are working to ensure she sees justice but also wants to end the practice of storing a victim’s DNA in a database.
“This practice of using the DNA from rape victims and sexual assault victims to incriminate them in unrelated cases is not only ethically and legally wrong, but it destroys the very fabric of trust in the institutions that are supposed to protect such victims,” said Adonte Pointer, one of the victim’s attorneys, in a statement.
Chief of Police Bill Scott has not commented on the recent lawsuit but in February spoke about the practice. He noted that this practice conforms to state and federal practice but that he will review the policy.
“Whatever disagreements District Attorney Boudin and I may have, we agree that this issue needs to be addressed. At the end of the day, our respective departments exist to do justice for victims of crime. The last thing we should ever do is discourage their cooperation with us to accomplish that,” said Chief Scott in a news release.
The victim is suing the city and county of San Francisco, the police chief, the crime laboratory director, a criminalist, and a police officer for the violation of federal rights, according to the lawsuit.