INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a Hobart man indicted for rape to submit to a cheek swab DNA test.
Gage Patrick Ringer, 22, who has yet to be tried for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman while armed with a knife on April 1, 2013, claimed Lake Superior Judge Samuel Cappas violated his constitutional rights by granting the prosecution's request for a sample of Ringer's DNA to compare with evidence collected from the victim.
Ringer argued the taking of his DNA by rubbing a stick with a sponge or foam tip against his inner cheek is an unreasonable search under both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.
The Court of Appeals disagreed. It ruled, 3-0, that while the cheek swab DNA test is a search, it is noninvasive, pain-free and reasonable under the circumstances of the case.
Specifically, the court relied on a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling authorizing the DNA testing of arrestees for identification purposes, similar to fingerprinting, to reject Ringer's federal constitutional claims.
The appeals court similarly found Ringer has a diminished expectation of privacy under the Indiana Constitution since a Lake County grand jury has found there is probable cause to believe he committed the rape.
"Law enforcement had a high degree of suspicion that Ringer had violated the law, the degree of intrusion was minimal and law enforcement had a legitimate need for taking the buccal (cheek) swab. As such, we conclude that the trial court's order that Ringer submit to a buccal swab was reasonable," wrote Appeals Judge Cale Bradford.
Ringer is out of jail on bond while awaiting trial. He has 30 days to request the Indiana Supreme Court review the appeals court ruling.
In a similar 2011 case, the state's high court affirmed the conviction of a man who raped a Valparaiso University student by finding that cheek swab DNA testing is a legitimate post-arrest identification tool.