Proposed Nevada bill seeks to protect rape victims who submit DNA in test kits

Rape kit funding
Rape kit funding(WITN)
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:34 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A proposed bill in the Nevada Legislature would limit the use of victims’ DNA in rape kits, all as a way to make sure that survivors feel secure coming forward to report a crime.

“Sadly many rapes go unreported. Another reason that a victim may not come forward to report a sexual assault is fear of what their personal DNA from their sexual assault or rape kit will be used for, without their knowledge or consent,” said Sen. Lisa Krasner, who proposed Senate Bill 321. The bill would limit law enforcement’s use of the victim’s DNA only to sexual assault or rape cases.

Advocates cited a recent court case in San Francisco that worried experts about legal repercussions for victims. Last fall, a woman filed a lawsuit claiming she submitted her DNA in 2016 in a rape case, and five years later, law enforcement used the same DNA to charge her with retail theft. Though the city is still embroiled in the suit, the then-city prosecutor stated that she would not pursue charges against the individual and said similar practices had been used to find other suspects.

“That case was horrendous. We fear that story making national headlines will have a chilling effect,” said Serena Evans of the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Other supporters included the ACLU, the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association, the Washoe and Clark County Public Defenders Offices, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Metro Police clarified that their policy never allows victims’ DNA to be submitted to CODIS, the database used by the FBI and law enforcement nationwide.