French Police Try to Track Down a Rapist with Mass DNA Testing

In order to find the man who raped a 16-year-old girl on her school campus, investigators have issued subpoenas to over 500 male students and staff members of Fenelon Notre-Dame High School for their DNA samples.

The Associated Press reports that the assault occurred in the bathroom of the school, which is private and has a closed campus. After other attempts to find the assailant failed, police issued subpoenas to male students aged 14 and up, faculty and staff requiring them to submit DNA samples. Those samples will be matched to the DNA found on the victim's clothing (she was raped in the dark and could not identify who attacked her, reports France 24). None of the individuals approached have refused to give a sample, though if they had, they could have been arrested.

"The choice is simple for me," said prosecutor Isabelle Pagenelle. "Either I file it away and wait for a match in what could be several years, or I go looking for the match myself."

While some are upset about the potential violation of student rights, since the incident occurred in September, others feel like it took too long for this step to be taken. As The Atlantic Wire points out, in the United States, both Congress and the Obama Administration are currently grappling over how to deal with the backlog of rape kits around the country, though it's unlikely that mass DNA testing will be the strategy used to combat that problem. This is the first time it's been used at a French school, but not the first time mass DNA tests have been used in France or in other countries (and when they have been done, the results have been mixed). Though it might seem extreme, at least it's addressing the problem head on. Like I said, we've seen what happens with rape kits in America – nothing.

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