DNA subject files suit

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Larry Monroe, one of the local men approached by city police to submit to a cheek-swab DNA test in 2003 and 2004 in the search for a serial rapist, is suing the City of Charlottesville, city police Chief Tim Longo and detective James Mooney, claiming the swabs violated the constitutional rights of nearly 190 men. Attorneys Deborah C. Wyatt and Neal L. Walters represent Monroe and they are still trying to get the case certified as a class action. Should that happen, they would seek $15,000 for each plaintiff. A hearing on the class certification took place on July 20 with a federal judge in Lynchburg. Wyatt and Walters hope to see the case go to trial soon.

But the attorneys for Longo and Mooney fired back last month: "Larry Monroe is not an adequate class representative. …Mr. Monroe has demonstrated…a complete lack of knowledge and understanding concerning the action."

The police strategy lasted until spring 2004, ending only after protests that the police department was using racial profiling. The investigations never led police to the rapist, who remains at large.

Attorneys for the city contend in case documents that the swabs weren’t haphazard. "The CPD used certain criteria to determine who would be the subject of a request for a DNA sample." The investigation, officials say, included people caught for peeping, people who matched the composite sketch, known sex offenders, and those "in a location that was known to be within the serial rapist’s geographic profile, and at a time of day and acting in a manner that aroused suspicion."

The police department claims they swabbed black males because that’s how the victims described the rapist. But Walters contends that the investigation constituted a "virtual dragnet of black males."

Though rulings last year chipped away at some of the claims, Monroe’s side argues that the "race-based investigation" violated equal protection and the DNA collection violated search and seizure laws under the Fourth Amendment.

Previous coverage: Cops sued for serial rapist DNA search

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