Schiff calls for FBI probe into potential for misuse of rape kits
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is asking the FBI to investigate reports that the San Francisco Police Department used DNA taken from a sexual assault victim in order to implicate her in an unrelated crime.
The letter from Schiff to FBI Director Christopher Wray asks about current regulation regarding how victim samples uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System administered by the agency can be used.
“Though there are still many unanswered questions about the extent of this practice, the fact it may have occurred at all is deeply disturbing. I fear it will have a chilling effect on sexual assault reporting,” Schiff wrote.
“Any perception among victims that law enforcement views them as a potential offender could further reduce already low rates of reporting of sexual assaults,” he continued.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D) disclosed the practice earlier this month, noting that a woman who consented to a sexual assault exam as part of a domestic violence complaint later had her DNA used to identify her in an investigation into an alleged property crime.
“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 wrote.
“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 has since dropped the charges against the woman.
Schiff said he’s prepared to draft legislation to prohibit such practices, specifically barring law enforcement from entering victim DNA into the National DNA Index System’s offender database.