The Wayne County prosecutor praised her office’s partnership with local businesses and county and state governments in processing thousands of abandoned rape kits.
Kym Worthy said bringing private and public entities together to raise money to pay for processing the rape kits, which help identify suspected rapists using forensic evidence collected from a sexual assault victim, is paying off. The rape kits were found in an abandoned Detroit police storage facility six years ago.
Her office went to work immediately to process the 11,341 rape kits, which had initially cost about $1,200 to $1,500 each at the time to investigate. With donations and fundraising through private groups and additional government funding, the number of untested rape kits has dropped dramatically, , Worthy said.
There are about 1,042 cases awaiting investigation and 334 cases being tested, she said. The investigations have yielded 78 convictions of people who committed sexual assaults, and have identified 784 serial rapists who have committed sex assaults 10-15 times each, Worthy said.
Worthy said the number of untested rape kits across the country is enough to fill the University of Michigan’s “Big House” several times.
“It’s certainly a national issue,” said Worthy at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Detroit Policy Conference on Thursday. “There about estimated to 400,000 rape kits across the country.”
Worthy said she’s been “begging everybody,” and organizations like the Michigan Women’s Foundation and Enough SAID, an African-American women’s organization, answered her call for help. She said her office’s processing of the rape kits “has become a national model.”
She also thanked corporate donors like the owner of Dearborn-based Carhartt clothing company and downtown Detroit developer Dan’s Gilbert’s mortgage company Quicken Loans for also helping. Quicken Loans partnered with United Parcel Service to create a tracking system in place since February 2015, for each rape kit, said Worthy.
“Our goal is to be able to know where every rape kit is every moment across this country,” said Worthy on Thursday.