• The San Juan Daily Star

Forensic specialists to use Rapid DNA tech in sexual assault cases

Dr. María Conte Miller, director of the Institute of Forensic Sciences

By John McPhaul

As of Dec. 1, the Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF by its Spanish initials) will analyze in its DNA laboratory and in a maximum term of 10 working days the tests to detect genetic evidence in cases of sexual assault, known as safe kits, following the acquisition of new Rapid DNA technology, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Thursday.

“Scientific investigation in forensic cases is essential for the law and order component to clarify criminal investigations,” the governor said at a press conference at which he was accompanied by ICF Director Dr. María Conte Miller and Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz, who also chairs the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education Committee, commonly known as PARE by its Spanish acronym.

“This new technology represents a radical change in the way of clarifying cases and, specifically, in the speed at which it will be possible to provide conclusive evidence to the police and the prosecution, specifically in cases of sexual assault that, as you know, are part of the cases that we have prioritized with the gender violence emergency declaration,” Pierluisi said. “With this new technology, the result can be ready in 10 working days, guaranteeing the rapid intervention of the authorities, since there is no doubt that obtaining results of genetic evidence, in a faster way, is significantly positive for our justice system.”

Conte Miller pointed out that with Rapid DNA “the backlog of safe kits is avoided and a result is guaranteed within the established term.”

“Delays in sexual assault evidence analysis will be a thing of the past,” she said. “By acquiring this technology, we are talking about a before and after in forensic investigation in Puerto Rico. This new technique is the future of forensic science and we already have it here, with fast and reliable results.”

The ICF director added that the island is the third jurisdiction to use the resource.

“This technology has proven to be reliable and effective in other jurisdictions,” Conte Miller said, adding that the ICF receives 15 to 20 safe kits monthly. “In Puerto Rico, we have identified specialized personnel who were trained and who will be exclusively dedicated to the analysis of safe kits.”

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