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

Illustration for article titled 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.

Image via Shawn Hempel/Shutterstock



As a French person, I have read all the negative reactions in the comments here, and I must say : I've read the same ones on most French websites. And not as many positive ones, by the way. Did anyone say rape culture ? Most people expressing their views on the subject (which, you'll agree, is not necessarily the same as "most people") are against this testing, because it's infringing the rights of 500+ males in a school. People worrying about an imaginary threat (as in "giving a spit sample even though you're perfectly innocent AND it's not destroyed as promised AND it's kept in a database AND somehow it bites you in the proverbial arse later AND society goes all dystopian") make me shiver. And frankly I don't know what they suggest the police should do. I bet that testing 500+ people is not an ideal solution to them either, it's just the last one they have to find the RAPIST of an UNDERAGE girl. But if anyone wants to volunteer and become a better cop, be my guest.

By the way, the first reports indicate that so far none of these 500+ males have complained about it, in case the negative people are interested in what the persons actually facing the situation think about it. For some reason, these 500+ males seem to think it's worth leaving some saliva on some cotton. It's almost like they care for that teenage girl that they know and we don't. Can you imagine ?