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Woman whose rape kit DNA was used to arrest her intends to sue San Francisco

A patch and badge on the uniform of a San Francisco police officer
The San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab has stopped the practice of using DNA collected from victims of rape and sexual assault to connect them to unrelated crimes, a police spokesperson said.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
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A woman whose DNA from a sexual assault examination was later used by police to arrest her in connection with an unrelated property crime plans to sue the city and county of San Francisco, her attorney announced Thursday.

Adante Pointer and his client intend to file the lawsuit after a 45-day waiting period mandated by law for officials to respond to the notice of intent to file suit, Pointer told The Times.

The San Francisco Police Department “and perhaps other police departments have been compiling a Google-like database of crime survivors’ DNA, which they then use to investigate unrelated crimes,” Pointer said.

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There doesn’t appear to be an expiration date or limit on how authorities use the DNA, the attorney said, and victims aren’t provided notice that their DNA is being stored for use in future criminal investigations and “any number of other activities.”

A database with DNA collected from victims of rape and sexual assault was searched to identify suspects in crimes, Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin said.

Feb. 15, 2022

“This is like giving the police access to your cellphone to look at evidence of a specific crime, and they keep searching it for years to come in order to implicate you in other crimes all without you having any notice or warning,” Pointer said.

Charges against the woman were dropped.

“If there is a pending lawsuit we are unable to comment regarding the incident,” Officer Robert Rueca, a Police Department spokesman, said Friday.

Controversy over police use of the DNA database emerged after San Francisco Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin issued a statement in mid-February calling for an end to the practice.

According to Boudin’s Feb. 14 announcement, a police crime lab had been using the database to “attempt to subsequently incriminate” victims of rape and sexual assault in unrelated cases, a practice he called “legally and ethically wrong.”

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The department’s crime lab stopped the practice after a complaint from the district attorney’s office that sparked a national outcry.

Feb. 23, 2022

The department’s crime lab stopped the practice shortly after receiving a complaint from the district attorney’s office and formally changed its operating procedure, said Matt Dorsey, spokesman for San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, on Feb. 23.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Feb. 17 that would ban law enforcement from using DNA gathered as part of sexual assault and rape examinations against victims.

The bill, SB 1228, was in committee as of Thursday, state legislative records show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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