Alameda County District Attorney Statement on Sex Assault Victim DNA Use

Response to recent reports of victim-survivor’s DNA used to charge her for a crime in SF

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has been a leader in enacting laws that create rights and protections for sexual assault victims and survivors. She has worked with legislators to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assault crimes, enhancing the Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights under the Penal Code and the standards for forensic examination, including the collection of potential DNA. In 2015, DA O’Malley worked with then Assemblymember, now Senator Nancy Skinner to pass the law that law enforcement should submit all sexual assault forensic kits to a crime lab for testing. In 2018, DA O’Malley worked with Senator Connie Leyva to change the law, making it mandatory for law enforcement to submit the sexual assault forensic kit to a crime lab, specifically to identify, test and submit DNA profiles in the state and national databases. Additionally, DA O’Malley has worked with then Assemblymember Chu to require the California Department of Justice to create a separate tracking system, SAFE-T to ensure that law enforcement has followed the law. In 2021, DA O’Malley worked with Senator Leyva to pass SB 215, which provides access to the victim-survivor to track their own case in SAFE-T.

The action of the San Francisco Police Crime Lab, of creating a separate DNA database containing the DNA of victims of sexual assault is unconscionable. It is in direct conflict with the spirit of the laws and policies on which DA O’Malley has worked on, including in the legislative arena, which ensure the rights, protections and respect for those individuals who have been sexually assaulted. The practice employed by the San Francisco Crime Lab is an anomaly and unique to this crime lab. No crime lab should ever create or maintain a database containing the victim-survivor’s DNA for comparison in efforts to solve other crimes, or for any other reason, other than identification of the victim’s DNA for law enforcement investigative purposes in solving the sex assault crime.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott has stated that he has taken steps to halt his department’s “possible” misuse of DNA profiles of victims and survivors. Chief Scott might look to Alameda County, to Santa Clara County, to San Mateo County or any other county in which there is a government crime lab.

DA O’Malley pledges to continue her fight, as a leader and an advocate, to ensure that all rights of victim-survivors are upheld, and that all victims are treated with respect and dignity, while law enforcement investigates and solves sexual assault crimes through the use of offender profile DNA.

Posted on Mar 11, 2022