NYC: We Bungled DNA Evidence in 26 Rape Cases
Single technician blamed for errors
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 11, 2013 8:38 AM CST
A lab technician has been blamed for issues with DNA evidence related to rapes.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – New York City officials are cleaning up after a lab technician who reportedly bungled DNA evidence in at least 26 rape cases. The medical examiner's office is in the process of reviewing 843 cases; the technician missed biological evidence in 26 of those studied thus far. Officials were able to construct full DNA profiles that investigators could have used in seven of the cases, the New York Times reports.

Two of those profiles pointed to people who were already convicted or suspected of crimes; another sample prompted an indictment a decade after the material was first obtained. There weren't, however, any wrongful convictions, notes an official. The technician at fault, who resigned in November 2011, made mistakes including accidentally mixing samples, failing to notice stains on victims' clothing, and performing flawed tests. Usually, the office is considered a leader in forensics. "This is the first time we’ve had anything like this," says a rep.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
fractal
Jan 11, 2013 3:06 PM CST
I have worked in hospital labs. It isn't pretty. Your results are only as good as your technician is competent and caring. Even then, I had test results that I knew were wrong, because the machine told me it did not have enough blood to sample---yet the doctor forced me to give him the inaccurate numbers---which he then used to justify a c-section!
Daniel-from-TN
Jan 11, 2013 2:12 PM CST
"No wrongful convictions." Officials have to say that, whether it's true or not. They have to save face. They have to protect their credibility in the eyes of the courts and in the eyes of the public. I wonder how many legal appeals will be filed on the grounds of tainted evidence.
Marelicia
Jan 11, 2013 2:04 PM CST
I'll say that DNA evidence is only reliable as your sane, trustworthy, sober, and competent lab technician. DNA does not lie, but incompetent, intoxicated, confused or lazy lab technicians do lie or make serious mistakes affecting people lives. smdh. Sometimes, even with DNA evidence, depending on the circumstances, I had a problem with believing anything that the police or prosecutor said. NYC Thank you for confirming my suspicions.