Woman sues S.F. for failing to investigate her 2010 rape and never testing rape kit

A rape victim is suing The City and the San Francisco Police Department over mishandling the investigating of her 2010 assault.

Performer and activist Heather Marlowe filed the suit, claiming a San Francisco police investigator told her he would not take her case unless she met her alleged rapist in an attempt to get him to confess.

Marlowe is known for her one-person play “The Haze,” which retells the harrowing and uphill battle she faced when reporting her rape in 2010.

What followed her attempt to have her rape investigated was another hurdle when she discovered her rape kit, which tests for suspect DNA, was never tested along with hundreds of others.  Her efforts eventually pushed the department to test all of its untested rape kits.

The department did not return requests for comment, but does not usually speak on open lawsuits.

Now her lawsuit alleges that she faced more bureaucratic bumbling and official indifference. According to the filing, officer Joe Cordes discouraged her from pressing forward with an investigation, and then had her attempt to meet her alleged rapist.

After reporting being forcibly raped after she had been drinking during the Bay to Breakers, she was taken by Cordes to a house she believed was the location of her rape. When that “traumatic” tactic failed, Cordes had another plan.

“Cordes instructed Marlowe to make contact with suspect, and flirt with him in order to elicit a confession,” according to the filing. “Cordes also instructed Marlowe to set up a date with [the] suspect to prove that Marlowe could identify [the] suspect in a crowd. Cordes told Marlowe that if she refused to engage in these actions, SFPD [sic] would cease its investigation of her rape.”

Eventually, Cordes told her the case would go nowhere. When she contacted the department later to ask about what if anything had been done, she was told the suspect had been brought in for questioning and a DNA sample had been taken. She was also told her rape kit would be tested to see if it matched the sample taken from the suspect.

Years passed, and no test was ever conducted, according to the suit. In fact, her kit was eventually sent to storage. It has yet to be tested.

The federal suit, filed Wednesday, alleges the police “failed to investigate diligently” her reported rape and failing to test her rape kit.

Marlowe is seeking damages and wants to compel San Francisco to test her rape kit and release the results of her. Her suit names Chief Greg Suhr as well as Police Commissioner Suzy Loftus and others.


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