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San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Monday that his office has recently learned that the city’s police force has been using DNA taken from sexual assault victims to link them to crimes, potentially discouraging people who’ve been raped from coming forward.

Boudin, who revealed details of his findings in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, said his office became aware of the practice last week when the San Francisco Police Department used DNA it had collected from a woman years ago as part of a rape exam in order to connect her to a recent felony property crime.

“Public safety demands that we support sexual assault survivors and end any practices that dissuade them from coming forward,” Boudin tweeted.

Rape kits are collected when a victim comes forward about a sexual assault crime. In the process of compiling the kit, an examiner gathers bodily fluids from the survivor to test for any evidence their attacker may have left behind.

Boudin says SFPD has been entering survivors’ DNA into a database to compare it to evidence from other crime scenes. His office is not aware of how many times a victim’s rape kit DNA has been used to arrest them, he said, but added that the database may hold thousands of victims’ DNA information collected over “many, many years.”

The SFPD reported more than 200 rape cases in San Francisco in 2021.

Police Chief Bill Scott told the Chronicle that he agrees that the issue Boudin raised is “sufficiently concerning” and said his staff is reviewing the matter.

Authorities “must never create disincentives for crime victims to cooperate with police,” he said, “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.”

SFPD has previously come under fire for mishandling rape cases, as have many police departments nationwide. Multiple times in recent years, women have come forward with allegations that SFPD did not take their sexual assault cases seriously. The accusations eventually led to findings that the department had failed to test more than 700 rape kits from 2003-2013.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

Source: Huff Post

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