Mass DNA Testing Ordered Following High School Rape

The Justice Department has ordered a DNA test for 527 males, both adults and minors, in the private high school Fénelon-Notre-Dame, located in downtown La Rochelle in western France. The DNA test, which began Monday April 14, is part of an ongoing rape investigation of an incident that occurred at Fénelon-Notre-Dame last year.

On Sept. 30, 2013, a 16-year-old high school girl was assaulted in a school restroom. Lead prosecutor Isabelle Pagenelle explained that the victim is unable to identify her attacker as she was assaulted “from behind in the dark.” However, DNA evidence was found on the victim’s clothing.

A three-day DNA saliva test is being conducted on all men at the high school. This test includes 475 students, 31 faculty, and 21 individuals present on campus on the day of the crime. Prosecutors state that all negative samples will be destroyed. While the test is not obligatory, anyone who refuses to take it will be placed under police surveillance.

Since Monday, only one student has declined the saliva test. The student’s decision was “for personal reasons,” according to Pagenelle, but the prosecutor did not provide further details on the young man’s motivation.

Fénelon-Notre-Dame is completely enclosed by a wall except for one public entrance, leading investigators to believe that the assailant was most likely a campus regular. “It seems to be someone who knows the campus,” said school director Chantal Devaux. However, some parents question the DNA test, citing the six month delay and calling the test “bizarre.”

In the meantime, a group of psychological counselors has arrived on campus to provide support and to reassure students and parents. The counselors will stay as long as needed. Investigators will disclose the DNA test results in several weeks.

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