Concerned about reports in San Francisco that rape kits are being used to connect victims to other crimes, Santa Clara County supervisors want to know if county protocols allow the same thing to happen locally.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez said District Attorney Jeff Rosen's office told her that the county internal forensic Crime Laboratory “does not use the iin-house database to search survivors' DNA profiles or ever use them to prosecute survivors for other alleged crimes.”
She nonetheless requested a special local report following news that San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin had accused San Francisco police of using DNA collected from a sexual assault victim to connect her to another crime.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ask Rosen, the public defender's office and the Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring to report back on the matter at the board's April 19 meeting.
“I'm asking for public discussion about this because I want to make sure that survivors know that they can be safe in coming forward and getting help, including a sexual assault forensic exam,” Chavez said Tuesday.
Sexual assault victims are asked to voluntarily provide DNA to investigators, including evidence like bodily fluids, fingernail scrapings and scratch and bite marks.
Last month, Boudin alleged that San Francisco police used DNA submitted by a woman who was sexually assaulted in 2016 to search for suspects of an unrelated crime.
Boudin also alleged that the practice of using DNA collected during a sexual assault victim's exam, commonly called a rape kit, to investigate unrelated crimes is a common practice by law enforcement agencies across the state.
Boudin, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, announced a state bill on Monday that would ban the practice.
According to Boudin, federal law already does this, but the state does not have its own law preventing DNA from a rape kit being placed into the FBI's Combined DNA Index System database.
Santa Clara County supervisors also requested that county investigators include recommendations about how to bolster existing rape kit protocol to ensure DNA from sexual assault survivors is never used to prosecute other crimes.
“I want to make sure that all of our policies, procedures and protocols are positioned in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for them to be changed without a robust public discussion at any time in the future," Chavez said.