SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's district attorney is denouncing what he calls a routine practice of using DNA obtained from sexual assault kits to arrest those victims if they commit a crime at a later date.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin is saying this practice is not limited to San Francisco. The district attorney says using evidence from rape kits against survivors of sexual assault who are accused of committing a crime could stop victims from coming forward.
A sexual assault is already a traumatic enough event, now San Francisco's District Attorney Chesa Boudin is saying that in at least one case, San Francisco police obtained evidence a rape kit and later used the victim's DNA to tie that victim to a crime.
The district attorney read from a lab report he says laid out the details. "During a routine search of the SFPD internal quality database, a match was detected and verified," said DA Boudin. "Direct comparisons with the sample listed before were performed, and it references a 2016 sample from a rape kit."
The district attorney would not provide any further details about the sexual assault or the subsequent arrest, and says he only learned last week that the DNA had been used in the investigation. Boudin did not cite any other cases, but said he believes the practice to be common. "Our conversations with leadership at SFPD crime lab suggest that this is a routine practice not only in San Francisco but other crime labs across the state," said DA Boudin.
For its part, San Francisco police released a statement Monday reading in part, "the suspect in this case may have been identified through a DNA hit in a non-victim DNA database, I think the questions raised by our District Attorney today are sufficiently concerning that I have asked my Assistant Chief for Operations to work with our Investigations Bureau to thoroughly review the matter..."
Victim advocates say they worry that if this is a routine practice it could further discourage survivors of rape and sexual assaults from reporting their assaults, or agreeing to submit to a rape kit. "If this is a standard practice, then this is a practice that needs to stop immediately," said Pamela Tate from Black Women Revolt Against Domestic Violence.
Now lawmakers are stepping in. State Senator Scott Wiener says he's working with the district attorney's office to investigate and address the issue with new legislation if needed, and San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen says she is preparing to author legislation in the city to prevent DNA from victims being used against them. "If survivors knew that their own DNA evidence would potentially be stored and used against them at a future date even less survivors would come forward," said Supervisor Ronen.
KTVU reached out to the DA's office to find out if charges in the case would be dismissed, but has not yet heard back. KTVU also asked if this opens the door to any other cases either being dismissed or even overturned, and the DA said he was looking into that.