SB 321 forbids sharing DNA taken from sexual assault victims

In Nevada, DNA collected from a sexual assault investigation could not be used to prosecute the sexual assault victim in other cases.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:26 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Back in 2016 a woman in San Francisco submitted to an evidence collection exam after a sexual assault. What she did not know, the DNA collected then was placed into a database used to identify people as possible suspects in other crimes.

She was eventually arrested for her involvement in retail theft. In 2021 she sued the City of San Francisco for invasion of privacy.

The incident got the attention of Senator Lisa Krasner who has been holding onto her bewilderment for more than a year.

“What went through my mind is this is a victim of a rape,” says Senator Krasner a Republican who represents District 16.

The result: Senate Bill 321.

A bill that forbids law enforcement or lab to share DNA collected at the time a sexual assault victim subjects themselves to an evidence exam.

Those in favor of the bill pointed out sexual assault is already one of the most under-reported crimes in this country. The potential of DNA sharing would just make the situation worse.

“You’ve heard the number 30% of sexual assaults are reported,” testified Barry Cole a Reno Psychiatrist. “That may be an optimistic number. I’ve seen statistics a low as 10% with a background rate of one in five women. One in 70 men.”

Dr. Cole testified in favor or SB 321.

The bill was supported by an array of representatives. From District Attorneys to Public Defenders, the ACLU and the AFLCIO.

Senator Krasner says she’s worked with a lot of people to develop a bill she says may encourage more sexual assault victims to come forward.

“The DNA from a victim’s rape kit should never be used for any purpose except for solving the crime or apprehending the perpetrator,” said Senator Krasner

The Senate Judiciary Committee took no action on SB 321 today.

As far as the woman who was the impetus to this bill? Her case against the city of San Francisco is in federal court.

And now there’s a California Law prohibiting the sharing of DNA in sexual assault cases.