What San Francisco did with the DNA of rape victim “Jane Doe” violated her again. It’s also a chilling abuse of power which is totally unconstitutional. She provided a standard “rape kit” to be used against her attacker. More than five years later, San Francisco police used it to put her in jail on an unrelated property crime. That’s not fair, civil libertarians object.
Who’s DNA is it anyway?
People assume their DNA is protected from unauthorized use. “I didn’t know that it would be used against me,” the woman told reporters a while back. “I didn’t know that that could happen. I didn’t know that was even possible. I just feel violated again.”
She isn’t giving out her real name in court documents but she filed a lawsuit on Monday, September 12. The caption names “San Francisco’s municipal government and several San Francisco Police Department employees.”
The suit alleges the police violated “her constitutional protection against unlawful search and seizure.” DNA is like any other piece of evidence, so she has a good point. Her lawyers filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California to make a federal case out of it.
A woman's DNA from a rape kit was used by the police to arrest her in connection with an unrelated property crime last year. She filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco, saying the police had engaged in an “unconstitutional invasion of privacy.” https://t.co/D6AyQM3xJI
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 13, 2022
Doe claims she was “re-victimized” by her “arrest and a months-long stay in jail.” The charges were eventually dropped.
Along with an amount of money to be determined by the jury, she wants “a court order forcing officials to remove her DNA from their records.” They also should be barred from doing the same thing to anyone else with some sort of “permanent database.”
Genes are something which get patented these days, your own should be considered trademarked in some way. Big Brother always keeps pushing the technology envelope, trying to get away with as much as they can until the law catches up.
Serious government overreach
“This is government overreach of the highest order, using the most unique and personal thing we have — our genetic code — without our knowledge to try and connect us to crime,” the woman’s attorney, Adante Pointer, argues. Especially when DNA sequencing methods aren’t always reliable.
Jen Kwart, spokesperson for City Attorney David Chiu admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle that such action could scare rape victims away from reporting the crime. The city “is committed to ensuring all victims of crime feel comfortable reporting issues to law enforcement and has taken steps to safeguard victim information.”
The court paperwork explains that police took a sample from Doe in November 2016. At the time, they led her “to believe that her DNA would not be used for any purposes other than investigating her sexual assault.” They lied by not telling the whole truth.
Instead, over the next five years and unbeknown to her, the woman’s genetic material “was likely tested in thousands of criminal investigations, though the police had absolutely no reason to believe that she was involved in any of the incidents.” Basically, it was on file and compared with every crime which came along. One day, the computer found a match.
In December 2021, “a police department employee ran a DNA sample taken from a burglary crime scene” through the crime lab’s database and got a hit. “The employee allegedly forwarded the results to a sergeant, who then got an arrest warrant.” That was an illegal search, her lawyers insist.
That means the “poison fruit” which fell out of the tree when they illegally shook it couldn’t be used against her in court. They tried to use it anyway. “While all charges stemming from this incident against Plaintiff Doe were eventually dropped, the appalling, exploitative, and unconstitutional nature of Defendants’ practice cannot be ignored.“