A district attorney has alleged that police in San Francisco have used DNA evidence from rape kits to identify survivors as possible suspects in unrelated crimes, KQED reports.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin tells the Washington Post that the practice is likely illegal and could prevent sexual assault survivors from coming forward.
NBC News adds that it is unclear how long the police department there has allegedly done this. According to KQED, Boudin says he recently became aware of the practice after seeing a notation indicating a suspect was identified after a routine search of an internal database that found a match with a sample collected after she was sexually assaulted years prior.
Boudin tells the Post this practice likely violates California's constitution, which calls for the return of property when it is no longer need as evidence, and possibly the US Constitution's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"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," San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said in a statement, according to KQED.