More than 500 male students and staff at a French school were to undergo DNA tests starting yesterday in a bid to discover who raped a 16-year-old girl in a school toilet.
The tests, a first in a French school, will end tomorrow and target 475 high-school students, 31 teachers and 21 others present on the premises on Sept. 30 last year, when the rape happened.
The schoolgirl was assaulted in the private Catholic Fenelon-Notre-Dame high school in the southwestern Atlantic port city of La Rochelle.
The attack took place after the light from an automatic-timer switch went off and she therefore could not provide the physical details of her attacker.
There are 1,200 students in the school.
The cost of the operation will be about 5,000 euros (US$7,000) and saliva swabs will be taken and matched with DNA found on the girl’s clothes.
DNA from her clothes tested negative when matched with those of her family and close friends.
The results are due out in a month.
Isabelle Pagenelle, the prosecutor of La Rochelle, said both parental and individual authorization was necessary for minors undertaking the test.
She said there would be no forced DNA testing, but added that “those saying ‘no’ can become potential suspects who may be detained.”
Results not connected with the rape will be destroyed, Pagenelle said, adding that the tests were necessary to prevent further assaults and make the school safer.
School principal Chantal Devaux said the incident had previously remained a secret and only investigators had been in the loop.