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Preventing rape in the military through effective DNA computing

M.W. Perlin, "Preventing rape in the military through effective DNA computing", Forensic Europe Expo, Forensics Seminar Theatre, Olympia, London, 30-Apr-2014.

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PowerPoint presentation with live audio recording of Dr. Perlin's talk.

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Eliminating sexual assault from the Armed Forces is a top priority, according to United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. His August 2013 memo concludes, "Preventing the crime of sexual assault remains our focus." But how can rapes be prevented before they ever occur?

A possible solution is DNA identification. By building a DNA database of military personnel, the genotypes of potential assailants would be known. Rape kit evidence collected from every victim could be analyzed for DNA, uploaded to this database, and automatically compared with all personnel to identify the perpetrator. Surely the certainty of genetic detection would deter potential rapists.

Alas, current DNA methods used in government do not have this capability. Rape kits are mixtures of DNA from the victim and other people. While laboratory instruments produce highly informative DNA data, human analysts interpret signals manually to make lists, discarding most of the identification information.

Government DNA databases use simple list comparison to make their matches, instead of real mathematics, and so may produce false hits to the wrong people. Therefore, to avoid false hits, these older databases block the upload of most DNA mixtures. Most rape evidence never makes it onto a DNA database.

Modern DNA evidence interpretation uses genotypes, not lists of alleles. These genotypes capture the true identification information in the data, expressing uncertainty as probability. Powerful computers automatically analyze DNA mixture signals to separate out the genotypes for each contributing individual. Genotype comparisons are done using real mathematics, and calculate a statistical weight of match. All mixture evidence is thus uploaded to a genotype database, without any bureaucratic blocking, since the mathematics ensures virtually no false hits.

Cybergenetics TrueAllele® genotyping technology has been proven in scientific studies, admissibility hearings and criminal courtrooms. Its match statistics are about a million times higher than manual review of the same rape evidence. A TrueAllele genotype database reanalyzed the World Trade Center disaster DNA. The computer objectively seeks the truth, and does not take sides.

Here is an effective DNA solution to preventing rape in the military.

  1. Collect DNA from all military personnel for database reference.
  2. Mandate reporting of all assault incidents to produce rape kits.
  3. Rapidly process the rape kits in a DNA laboratory.
  4. Interpret the DNA rape evidence with modern genotype computing.
  5. Upload all evidence to a modern genotype database.
  6. Compare the genotypes of all evidence to all references in the database.
  7. Identify the perpetrators, and prosecute them vigorously.

In his recent book "The Honest Truth about Dishonesty," Professor Dan Ariely observes that monitoring is highly effective in preventing people from behaving badly. It is time to deploy DNA computing for effective genetic surveillance that deters rape in the military, and in other closed communities.