Male-Only DNA Test Aims to Clarify Unconclusive Rape Kits
A new DNA test that can recognize only male DNA promises to help clear up rape tests that have so far proven to be otherwise inconclusive. The test can render the female’s DNA invisible and zero in on tiny samples of saliva, semen and skin samples to help identify suspects in sexual assault cases. Over 20 men have already been identified as sex offenders in the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office thanks to this new breakthrough.
The test can also lengthen the window of time a person can be tested following a sexual assault from 48 hours to 96, possibly even 120, hours. In cases where there are more than one perpetrator, the test can even identify how many men participated in the assault.
“There’s no way you can tell by looking at the victim whether there’s going to be a small amount there — there may be no trace of a stain or any sort of discoloration on the victim at all,” Dr. Kahn, the Harris County medical examiner’s forensic biology director, said. “This is something where the victim tells the nurse that, ‘He licked me here,’ or ‘He bit me here,’ or ‘He put his mouth here’ and they simply collect the sample and we see what we get.
Kahn also says the test can be used when a female victim of a non-sexual crime is attacked by a male. In many stabbing cases, for example, it is hard for the police to recognize any DNA samples when there is so much of the victim’s blood present. In these cases, the new test can render the victim’s blood invisible and search only for a male’s blood. The test will not work with two persons of the same sex however, and cannot tell the difference between two siblings. Additionally, it can only be used to identify a person who has already submitted a blood sample into evidence for the specific crime. The samples are not sensitive enough to recognize any unknown offenders on the list of previously identified offenders who have registered DNA samples.
Regardless of these set backs, Houston criminal defense attorneys are happy about this new prospect as it will help clear a number of men who are wrongfully accused of rape and other crimes. One of the most common reasons for inmate exoneration is DNA evidence after the fact clears the convict –this test can help prevent the innocent suspects from becoming inmates in the first place.