San Francisco DA drops charges against woman linked to property crime by rape kit DNA
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D) on Wednesday dropped charges that were filed against a woman after DNA collected from a rape kit was used to connect her to a crime.
As ABC affiliate KGO-TV reported, Boudin declined to specifically comment on the case that was brought to his attention late last week, citing privacy concerns, while broadly denouncing the alleged practice.
“I want to be really clear about a couple things. One of the reasons that we’re all standing here today is because of a commitment to privacy for survivors of sexual assault, and because of that I’m not going to get into the details of one specific case,” he said.
On Monday, Boudin revealed that his office had learned of police using a sexual assault victim’s DNA to tie her to an unrelated property crime. Boudin formally denounced the practice and demanded that it be stopped.
“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 on Monday.
“We should encourage survivors to come forward, not collect evidence to use against them in the future. This practice treats victims like evidence, not human beings. This is legally and ethically wrong,” he added.
Boudin noted on Wednesday that the form that victims sign after a rape kit is taken makes no mention “that DNA submitted in this process can be used for purposes unrelated to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.”
The district attorney said this practice was a statewide problem. Boudin told KGO that his office was looking into other possible incidences in which the San Francisco Police Department or authorities in California used a rape victim’s DNA to implicate them in a crime.
In a statement Wednesday, San Francisco Police Department Chief William Scott said, “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.”
Scott said his department would “immediately begin reviewing” its DNA practices and policies. He also stated that the rape victim could possibly have been identified through a “non-victim DNA database” but said the questions raised by Boudin are “sufficiently concerning.”
“Whatever disagreements District Attorney Boudin and I may have, we agree that this issue needs to be addressed,” said Scott. “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.”
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