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It was an ordeal Mary Wilson said she kept inside herself for two decades, but the 52-year-old received some relief from it just three months ago when authorities told her they had the man they believe raped her.

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“I’m no longer in that dark room. I’m no longer on that dark shelf,” Wilson told a crowd of more than 100 women gathered Thursday at Greater Grace Temple who raised money to test the last batch of rape kits found languishing seven years ago in an abandoned Detroit Police building.

The group of mostly preacher’s wives announced a new alliance between First Ladies of Wayne County’s Bringing Justice Initiative and county officials to raise $50,000 for testing of rape kits and subsequent investigation after the kits have been tested.

“He’s been caught. I thank God,” Wilson said. “He won’t be able to do this to another woman.”

She brought tears to the eyes of the preachers’ wives as she spoke about the pain she carried for 20 years before finding out a tested kit led to her rapist being caught. The suspect charged in Wilson’s rape is scheduled to go to trial in May.

“There are a lot of (other cases) out there that need to come to light,” she said.

The Detroit News’ policy is to not publish the names of victims of rape, but Wilson allowed her name to be used.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who also spoke at the event, said processing untested rape kits is shifting to another phase.

“Now begins the important work of investigating,” she said.

Worthy said more investigators need to be hired and money is needed to fund other investigative-related things such as office space and bulletproof vests.

The First Ladies of Wayne County, assembled by Executive Warren Evans, gives financial support to efforts to investigate and prosecute rape cases.

There were 11,341 untested rape kits found in 2009. Worthy said just under 1,000 rape kits still need to be tested.

So far, there have been 36 convictions of rapists as a result of the testing and investigations, authorities said, and more than 700 serial rapists identified. .

Worthy said the rapists identified had, on average, raped about seven to 10 women each.

Evans, who co-sponsored the event, said it is very important to raise the money to get the rapists off the streets.

Last November, he announced a $1 million allocation to Worthy’s office to help in the investigation of the remaining rape kits to be tested.

“When you think about it from a moral perspective, how can you say no to victims?” Evans said about the limited funding Worthy has received from Wayne County officials.

Crisette Ellis, the wife of Greater Grace Temple’s Bishop Charles Ellis III, said she wants victims to know “we’re in it for the long haul to make victims get justice.”

Kim Trent of African American 490 Challenge and First Ladies of Wayne County said her organization also will see the efforts to test the rape kits and subsequent investigations through.

“We support the whole campaign,” said Trent, a member of Wayne State University’s Board of Governors.

Monique Marks, a clinical therapist and First Lady of First Community Baptist church, said she will continue to work to raise money for the rape kits project even once all the abandoned kits are tested.

“I’m here to the end,” Marks said, who added she also counsels woman in her church who have been rape victims.

“A lot of women don’t get the opportunity to go through counseling,” said Marks who is also the president and CEO of Franklin-Wright Settlements, Inc.

Worthy was given an initial $10,000 for the project Thursday. The Bringing Justice Initiative runs through March 18.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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