Paris, April 14: Police have started conducting mass DNA tests of 527 male pupils, teachers and staff at a French high school following the “rape in the dark” of a teenager in the school toilets.
Detectives have asked 475 pupils, 31 teachers and 21 other staff present at a private lycée in La Rochelle, western France, on the day of the sex attack permission to take DNA samples from mouth swabs in an attempt to find the mystery rapist after months of fruitless searches.
The tests began this morning on adults and pupils aged 15 to 18. They were expected to last another two days at Fenelon-Notre Dame lycée, where a 16-year-old was sexually assaulted last September in a rest room. As the lights were out during the attack, the victim was unable to identify the assailant visually but the genetic profile of a male individual believed to be the rapist was recovered from her clothing.
“This happened during the school day in a confined space,” said Chantal Devaux, the private Roman Catholic school’s director. “The decision to take such a large sample was made because it was the only way to advance the investigation.” Students received their summonses last week.
Permission to take DNA samples requires the double consent of pupils and their parents. However refusal to agree to provide samples would be viewed as suspect.
Most pupils were apparently happy to take part in the exercise but some said they regretted not being informed of the rape until several months after the attack. Isabelle Pagenelle, the local prosecutor, said: “Forty samples will be taken per hour, under the watch of teachers when it comes to pupils.”