Kidnap-Rape Spurs Action on Genetic-Testing Lab

Times Staff Writer

In reaction to the kidnap and rape this week of a 12-year-old girl in Huntington Beach, the Board of Supervisors appeared ready Friday to finance California’s first genetic-testing lab for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities have said that such a crime lab might have prevented the attack on the girl because the suspect who has been arrested had been acquitted on a rape charge in April--after prosecutors were unable to obtain genetic-evidence test results in time for the trial.

Currently, California police agencies must send their genetic evidence to laboratories on the East Coast and wait--sometimes several months--for the results.

Friday, Supervisor Don R. Roth called on the board to order a 30-day study on how the county could pay for a so-called DNA lab and how the cost might be shared with the state or other law enforcement agencies.


Hours later, Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder--who lives in the Sea Cliff on the Greens gated community where the kidnaping occurred last Sunday--asked the board to fully fund the lab immediately at a cost of $120,000.

Both proposals are scheduled to be considered at the board’s meeting next Tuesday.

“I don’t want to spend any more time on additional studies or reports,” Wieder wrote in a letter to the other supervisors. “By acting today, the board can respond to this critical need in a responsible and timely manner that may prevent another innocent child from becoming a victim.”

Despite the different proposals, one county official said it appears that the lab will be funded: “It’s just a question of how much and when.”

The Sheriff’s Department’s request for a genetic testing lab has been rejected by the county for the past two years because of the government’s tight fiscal condition. In the meantime, Sheriff-Coroner Brad Gates has organized a private fund-raising campaign to pay for the lab.

So far his efforts have raised $80,000 in contributions, including about $25,000 from a fund-raiser last week.

Assistant Sheriff Dennis LaDucer said Friday that department officials were happy to hear of the board’s plans to consider funding for the lab. But he said it would be best to finance the facility immediately.

“We’ve been studying this for two years,” LaDucer said. “Personally, I think the issue has been studied enough.”

After such extensive study, La-Ducer said he is unaware of any other genetic testing lab in California. The state, however, is considering a plan for regional genetic labs throughout California.

One of the items to be studied in Roth’s proposal would be the possibility of Orange County’s facility being designated as the state’s regional lab, reducing the cost to the county.

“The board must act to ensure that public and private funds are utilized appropriately . . . and that no unnecessary time delays or fiscal waste is made,” Roth wrote in his proposal to the other board members.

DNA testing has been used in criminal trials and investigations in at least 30 states, including California.

DNA--or deoxyribonucleic acid--is the fundamental molecule in human life that carries a genetic code unique to every individual. That unique code can be gleaned from DNA found in samples of human hair or bodily fluids.

Kyle Joseph Borges, the 29-year-old transient construction worker who was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the kidnap and rape in Huntington Beach, was acquitted in a controversial rape trial involving an attack on a housewife in Anaheim Hills on Oct. 29, 1988.

A Superior Court judge prevented prosecutors from introducing genetic evidence in that case because it would have delayed the trial for several months. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Bauer said the genetic evidence “was very persuasive and very strong evidence.

“If this is the same guy, it would have prevented this kidnap and rape because he’d still be in custody,” Bauer said.