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San Francisco sued for adding victim's DNA from rape kit to police database, using it to arrest her on unrelated burglary charges

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Monday, a sexual assault victim filed a lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco for storing her DNA collected from a rape kit in the police database. The suit alleged that her DNA was stored without her consent and later used to arrest her on unrelated burglary charges.

The victim, only identified as Jane Doe in court documents, also filed the lawsuit against the police chief, the crime lab director, the criminalist, and an officer for the San Francisco Police Department.

Another 50 unidentified defendants were listed in the court filing, Fox News reported. The case accused the unnamed defendants of negligence and breach of duty.

The lawsuit stated that Jane Doe provided a DNA sample to the police department in 2016 to investigate the victim's sexual assault. However, Doe claimed that she never agreed that her DNA would be stored in a permanent database or used for any other purposes.

"There are reportedly thousands of people who are being subjected to this arbitrary, unlawful unconstitutional invasion of privacy," the case read. "Plaintiff Jane Doe, a sexual assault survivor, was re-victimized by this unconstitutional practice."

The police department is being accused of storing the DNA unlawfully for at least six years. The lawsuit alleged her DNA would have been "tested in thousands of criminal investigations" during that timeframe.

Jane Doe was arrested in December 2021 because her DNA allegedly linked her to a burglary. However, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin dropped the charges against Doe after discovering how the DNA was collected and added to the police database.

The lawsuit alleged that the unlawful practice violated the victim's constitutional rights and caused pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Doe is seeking an unspecified payout for damages and the removal of her DNA from the database.

The San Francisco Police Department told Fox News that it could not comment on pending litigation.

In a February statement, SFPD Chief William Scott said, "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."

"I am informed that our existing DNA collection policies have been legally vetted and conform with state and national forensic standards," Scott stated. He reported that the police department's DNA collection practices are currently being reviewed.

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