Woman sues SFPD after rape kit DNA was used to ID her as suspect

A woman whose rape kit was used by San Francisco police to identify her as suspect in a crime filed a lawsuit against the city and its police department on Monday.

The woman is only identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit and prosecutors have already dropped the charges against her, but her attorneys say the harm has already been done, and there needs to be more safeguards in place to protect sexual assault survivors. 

"The last thing a survivor is thinking is that this will one day come back and be used against me," the woman's attorney, Adante Pointer said at a news conference Monday announcing the lawsuit. "Jane Doe came to the police looking for help. She came to the police looking for them to do right by her an instead the police betrayed her."

Police used the DNA collected in a rape kit the woman submitted to in 2016 to identify her as a suspect in a 2021 property crime. 

Former district attorney Chesa Boudin exposed the scandal earlier this year

KTVU spoke to the woman in March. She said she was re-victimized by the whole ordeal.

"They betrayed my trust," she said. "It just made me relive the whole situation."

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the DNA was stored in a quality control database used by the city crime lab to rule out contamination. But when investigators got a match in the so-called "quality assurance" database, that hold profiles of lab staff and other profiles they work up, they passed the information to investigators.

Scott said he’s made sure no rape kits are ever used again to identify suspects.

The city attorney’s office responded to the lawsuit with this statement.

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"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," city attorney spokeswoman Jen Kwart wrote. "Once we are served, we will review the complaint and respond appropriately."

Earlier in September, the California legislature passed SB 1228 that would prohibit law enforcement from keeping victim DNA in criminal databases. 

It's currently on the governor’s desk.

Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at Evan.Sernoffsky@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @evansernoffsky.