DA: San Francisco police used rape kit DNA to arrest victim

San Francisco's police chief says he's investigating claims by the district attorney that DNA collected from rape victims is being used to help identify them as possible crime suspects. 

District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Monday that he's learned the police crime lab has tried to identify suspects through a database that includes DNA profiles from sex-assault victims. 

Boudin says a woman was arrested recently for a property crime based on her years-old rape kit DNA. 

"I think that it is an improper use. I think that it’s going to have a chilling effect on women coming forward," said attorney Mary Alexander, who specializes in sexual assault cases at Bay Area firm Mary Alexander & Associates. "This would be such a terrible thing to realize that your DNA is going to go into some kind of a system, that could be used in a way that you don’t even know."

Boudin says the practice could be unconstitutional and it could dissuade sex-assault victims from reporting crimes.

Alexander, agrees, saying the San Francisco Police Department’s actions could be a violation of the woman’s civil rights and California’s Victims' Bill of Rights Act. 

"It is potentially, an illegal search and seizure, and using her DNA in an improper manner. So I think it’s of grave concern that this kind of thing is happening," said Alexander.

"Sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can undergo," said California State Senator Scott Wiener. "Coming forward after a sexual assault to provide a rape kit can be re-traumatizing. Too many people decide not to take that step, given the trauma."

Police Chief Bill Scott says he's ordered an investigation and if the allegations are true he'll end the practice.

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"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 in a statement. 

He added that while SFPD DNA collection policies comply with state and national standards, SFPD in "many important principles" exceeds those standards. 

KTVU contributed to this report.